How to Help a Hurting Person
by Anita Agers-Brooks
The walking wounded are all around us—people who are hurting physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, or spiritually. Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to react when you feel awkward or uncomfortable in the presence of a hurting person. But I’ve got three simple ways that will help you help them, instead of unintentionally making things worse.
- Don’t encourage inappropriately. Proverbs 25:20 reminds, “Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound” (NLT). Instead, remember the Romans 12:15 admonishment to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (NKJV).
- Listen twice as much as you speak. When you are with a hurting person, speaking less definitely says more—and it provides lasting proof of your compassion and care. In the biblical book of Job, his friends got it right when they sat with him in silence. The trouble started when they opened their mouths and tried to “fix” him with their opinions.
- Share what’s helped you. I’ve found that giving an inspirational or encouraging book to a hurting person provides a lasting impact. Especially if you buy them their own copy, with no requirement to give it back. This allows them to read as they can and lets them re-read especially touching parts. I often highlight standout passages that helped me when I was hurting, and let the person know I’ve done so at presentation. Healing words are a gift that never stops giving.
The next time you see the walking wounded, don’t shy away because you don’t know how to react. Instead, let them see your care, through actions that show how much they and their hurts matter to you.
Anita Agers-Brooks is an international speaker, business/life coach, and award-winning author. Her new book, Exceedingly: Spiritual Strategies for Living on Purpose, with Purpose, and for an Abundant Purpose releases in April. A mass market edition of her best-seller, Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over, releases in May. Connect at anitabrooks.com.