What to Do When People Share Hurts
I had a conversation with a man which started out normal enough like “Hi, who are you? What do you do?” etc. But quickly I could see he was hurting. And soon he shared some trouble in his life, specifically that he is doubting Jesus, and the reality of the Gospel. He attends church with his family, and yet he feels like an outsider, a doubter, wondering whether Jesus is real or not and whether the Gospel is just all made up.
Now, that’s not something you might expect to learn shortly after a cordial hello; but this is what hurt looks like. On the outside, he appeared professionally dressed and a somewhat successful local business owner, but on the inside he is deeply troubled. Right there, I could ration that I’m not a counselor and he should go see a head shrink. But why did he share this with me? Probably he doesn’t know, and didn’t intend to; but maybe God was behind it.
Often I find that God brings people across our path who are hurting so we can share some of this burden with them. But what does that mean? Are we really meant to volunteer our time to take this person on as a personal community service project? Perhaps, if that’s what God is wanting; but most of the time no. That’s not what God wants. God probably just wants us to pray for this person, and be open to what God may have us do next. And many times He not asking us to do anything next, but He is asking us to pray.
Do we really need lighten to strike as a sign that God is asking us to pray for them? Most likely the hurt exposed to us is reason enough to pray. I believe that as disciples of Christ, we’re meant to share one another’s joys and bear one another’s burdens. This means to simply listen and rejoice with those who rejoice regardless of our present circumstances, and to comfort those who are hurting regardless of whether we deem their need legitimate, or even the best use of our time. Because really, isn’t it God’s judgement of what is the best use of our time? And usually God wants us to spend more time praying.
When a person has a need, or wound, it may not be necessary to stop and pray for them right there; but almost always to pray for them later. God will direct our prayers for them. God revealed their hurt to us so we could intercede for them. For some reason God’s Kingdom work involves us praying for one another. And God likes it when we do so. So the next time a person shares a bit of their pain, consider listening and let them know you will pray for them—and then actually do it. This is how God works in people’s lives. This is how we do Kingdom work. This is how we can labor on earth, fight spiritual battles, defeat the enemy, and see God’s glory here and now.
Prayer does not need a degree or professional license. Prayer is what we all can do every day. And praying for others is a great way to be less selfish, more obedient to God, and grow as disciples. As the saying goes “Prayer changes things.” And prayer changes people. And God can use you and me to be a part of changing someone else’s life. How might our society change for the better if we spent less time talking about people and more time praying for them? How might our country change for the better if we spent less time complaining about it and more time praying for it, our leaders, and our people?
God has us here in this place and this age for a reason. Prayer is our best way to fulfill the divine reason we are here on earth. Most of the other stuff we do is just taking up space; but prayer changes the space in which we live, and brings heaven down to earth now in real and practical ways. Prayer changes people, heals hurts, softens hearts, and opens ears to God.
Prayer is the means by which we can literally see the power of God influence people. Prayer is part of the resurrection life of Jesus spread abroad in our hearts and lives with our fellows, but it requires we participate, and blesses us when we do.
So, pray for people and see what God does in them and in your own life. Watch how we experience more of God’s love in tangible ways. Pray for someone today. You’ll be glad you did.