Friday, January 1

How to Help 101

Lisa wrote this post a while ago and I thought it would make for a good "first of the year" post.


Since we do have such great support, some of the readers of this blog will be more validated by the following list than instructed. Hopefully it’s helpful either way!

Because of our situation these suggestions are directed more at illness, but they could be adapted to other difficult conditions as well.

1. Don’t give up.

At first onset, it’s easier to enthusiastically support someone who is hurting. But when the problem doesn’t go away, what then? Is God not listening to your prayers? Is the sufferer lacking in faith? What do you say to them? Most greeting cards say “Get well soon!” not “Stick it out!”

Take heart, there are many righteous people who suffer indefinitely on this earth even with the prayers of others. In these cases God is glorified by the sufferer’s faith and by the perseverance of those around them, not by a miraculous healing (although we hope!).

2. Be specific.

We received many well-meaning offers of “Let me know if you need anything!” But what is “anything?” It is much more helpful to tell someone “I can watch your children for 4 hours this week,” “Let me know how I can sign up to bring a meal/give you a ride” or “I’d love to clean your bathroom! When can I do that?”

Some of our best encouragement came from creative people who really thought about what we might need. Remember that the person you are trying to help is possibly too overwhelmed to give assignments and also that that it is very humbling to ask for help in our culture.

3. Be silent, but don’t disappear.

Many are worried about what to say to a sufferer. Really, your presence says much more than words ever could! Please, please don’t let awkwardness keep you from showing support. Your friend/family member is probably not waiting for your words of wisdom, just your love. Also, it’s difficult to go wrong with the Bible or “I’m praying for you”.

4. Don’t compare.

Sometimes sufferers need to talk about their situation, other times they need distraction. Be open to either possibility. If someone going through a difficult time asks about your life, NEVER say “Well, I don’t want to burden you with my problems…” They are asking because A) they want to think something else and B) they care about you.

We have realized that all suffering is relative. Week after week of chemo becomes normal. What might be most difficult for you could be manageable for me – and vice versa. Just because my husband has cancer doesn’t mean I think your problems are trivial. Suffering is not competitive!

Any thoughts on what you’ve learned about helping people?


Post a Comment

I am using DISQUIS for my comments these days. If you can see this and don't see the DISQUIS comments it probably means you are blocking cookies or are running an ad blocker that is blocking my comment stream. ***Any comments left here (on Google's comment system) will be deleted.***