The past few weeks, I’ve been saddened by the pain and grief of those both closest to me and those I know only casually. I once heard it said that you are either in a season of suffering, you just walked through a season of suffering, or, perhaps, a season of suffering is around the corner. The bottom line is: suffering finds us all at one point or another. It’s inevitable.

If you witness suffering in those around you, there are a few things you can do to encourage the soul of the person you love who is experiencing a crisis:

  1. Pray. This cannot be assumed. Timothy instructs the believers to pray, intercede, and give thanks for others. (1 Timothy 2:1) When it seems like too much, we can pray to the God who heals, to the God who redeems, and to the God who restores. Nothing is off limits. He can handle our heavy and weighty prayers. Not one prayer uttered through tears is wasted. Prayers are powerful. (James 5:16) This is the first and most sacred way we can love those in crisis.
  2. Listen. Sometimes, we are so worried we won’t have the right words to say to those hurting around us that we don’t reach out at all. We isolate ourselves because we fear not knowing exactly what to do. The Enemy does his best work in isolation. Our willingness to listen to the heart of another is beautiful. It’s not our job to fix someone else with our words. The Good Lord does the heavy lifting. May we simply be his hands, feet, and ears to those who are hurting. It’s tempting to jump to conclusions or wonder how things could be different, but it’s not helpful. It’s a hindrance. When we listen, we make room for vulnerability. May we be quick to hear and slow to speak. (James 1:19)
  3. Serve. Are you heartbroken over an atrocity that’s an ocean away? Look for reputable people who have boots on the ground, come alongside them and discover ways to serve the hurting soul you ache for. Are you a witness to a friend going through a hard time? Show up with coffee, leave a meal on the front porch, send a card, send flowers, deliver chocolate all in the name of companionship. Suffering may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean we have to do it alone. When we serve the hurting, we remind them and ourselves that God is for us, He sees us, and we are not alone. We have each other. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7)

This life is not a drill. At times, it’s so painful we hardly know what to do. May we love others with such tenacity that we see the hand of God through our actions and words. As we do, we become the people we were always meant to be: full of compassion and love.