What Not to Say to Those Who are Suffering
- Thursday, December 01, 2011
When in doubt, skip the question all together.
Replace it with something like this.
"How can I pray for you?"
Here is a hard working question. With it we are coming beside those who suffer, we are reminding them that God hears, we are asking them to consider the promises of God to them, and we are saying that they are going to be on our heart. If we get an answer such as "pray that God would leave me alone" or a roll of the eyes - something that suggests either anger or spiritual indifference - then we can propose something that is a promise of God, such as comfort or the knowledge of God's love and presence.
Even better than "How can I pray for you?" we could pray for the person on the spot. "How could I pray for you now?" And after that comes the most important part - we follow up. When we pray for someone we keep praying and we pray until we have witnessed God on the move.
And I didn't personally say the one about the legs. I am guilty for many other unedifying comments, but I didn't say the one about the legs. A "friend" said it. Really.
Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D. Ed is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF. He earned a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Utah and has a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. Ed has been counseling for over thirty years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear and addictions. His books include: When People Are Big and God is Small; Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave; Blame it on the Brain; Depression—A Stubborn Darkness; Running Scared; Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Addiction; and When I am Afraid: A Step-by-Step Guide Away from Fear and Anxiety.
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