How Not to Minister to the Hurting
- Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This is the fix-it mentality. People see a tragedy and want to make it right. Never mind that they are not capable and are giving counsel far out of their field of expertise, assuming they have one.
5. "Remember, pastor--" (Oh! Did I tell you that Holly and Seth's father is a pastor?) "It says in Romans that 'God works all things together for good.'"
The family wishes they had a nickel for each time they've heard that. Holly comments that it falls under the category of "trite but true."
6. "You know, you're really lucky. I've heard that being an empty-nester is really hard. Now, you'll never have to go through that!"
The reason he will never leave home is that Seth will remain completely dependent on his parents' care the rest of his life. His life-expectancy (I asked about this) is around 15 years, half of which he has already lived in this condition.
7. "You know, you're really lucky. I was watching a TV show last night that said those who use their brains every day are less likely to become senile in old age. So taking care of your son is keeping you young and sharp."
I know, I know. You're doubting that anyone actually said something this stupid. They did.
8. "Here's why I think God did this."
The family member on the receiving end of this bit of wisdom thinks to him/herself, "Really? You presume to know the mind of God?"
Two explanations as to "why God did this" stand out in Holly's mind:
a) "Your son is a sacrificial lamb, showing the rest of us how to live."
This person's God seems to be the epitome of cruelty.
b) "He was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident. So, God must have looked into the future and seen that he would raise a family and teach them not to wear their seatbelts and one day they would all have been killed in an accident. So, God did this to spare his future family."
That one leaves me speechless.
9. "You must feel glad that where your son is now"--in a semi-vegetative state-- "he can no longer sin!"
You know, the ability to sin is not the worst thing in the world. The inability to sin (or anything else!) at all is far, far worse.
10. (In response to Mary's saying she was exhausted from the 24/7 routine of caring for Seth, including rising in the middle of the night, every night, someone said:) "Well, you know, it's not such a big deal. Lots of people who have newborn babies at home have to do the same thing."
There are times when we do well just to keep our mouths shut and say nothing. Clearly, this was one of those times for a friend of the Esvelt family. Sadly, he/she chose not to take that precious opportunity.
11. "I would like to pay to have (a certain faith healer) come and pray over your son. I'm confident that would heal him. In the meantime, here is a stack of that preacher's materials to look over."
At what point does a parent violate their own beliefs and convictions in order to be willing to do anything that would bless their needy child? When I was dealing with my own bout with cancer (2004/2005), and people would say they were praying for me, "Even though we're not of the same religion," I would half-seriously reply that "I'm accepting all prayers." That's one thing. But welcoming into your home a so-called "faith healer" is another altogether.
12. "If your son would just stop raging in his heart against God, then God would be free to heal him."
Holly replies (at least in her heart), "Now, how do you know what a guy in a coma is thinking?"
This one makes me angry. I think at this point I would have shown the visitor the door and ordered him off my property. Enough is enough. And, as Jerry Lewis used to say, "And too much is plenty!"
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