14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14
As Christians, we know that we are suppose to be ministering to each other. If the Holy Spirit is in us, we are motivated to do so. However, we are fearful that we just don’t have the “gifts” to be successful in what we want to do. Let’s consider for a moment what we really need to do.
- We are not called to fix, just to be there. A brother or sister in need doesn’t really expect us to have all the answers, they just want someone to be present while the questions are pondered. Just to sit quietly with a friend is a tremendous blessing.
- Listen. As we sit we need to really listen. We need to learn to listen not just to the words that are spoken, but those that are not. We need to learn to get a feel for the emotions.
- Share. It is much more helpful to someone hurting to hear that they are not alone in feeling pain. They don’t need easy answers but they can be blessed by a honest sharing of experience. Be careful not to “one up” the person in pain. We don’t need to say, ‘You think you have it bad. Let me tell you what happened to me.” We can never completely put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, so don’t try.
- Pray. Sometime when we are in pain, we don’t know how to pray. It can be such a blessing for someone else, in our presence, to go before the Lord for us. Prayer gives God the opportunity to act and bless.
- Give. After listening and praying, it may become clear that we have some resource that the suffering one needs. We need to admonish and encourage, but we also need to “help.”
- Substitute. When we are in pain, it becomes difficult to perform even our normal daily tasks. Look for opportunities to step in and fill in where the hurting can’t act or can’t act as efficiently as they usually do.
- Be Jesus. The greatest thing we can do is to “be Jesus” and to bring Him to the hurting. A person in pain may not be in the best position to “hear” the gospel, but they are certainly in a position to see it.
We live in a world full of burdens and the burdened. Even when we ourselves are suffering, the greatest salve can be to minister to someone else.