Thursday, December 15, 2011

Walking with a Friend through Adversity

Do these phrases sound familiar?

    • When God closes a door, he opens a window.
    • God never gives us more than we can handle.
    • We will be praying for you.
    • God has a plan.

 When we were going through a very difficult time we heard these phrases quite a bit. These things were mostly said by those who had not experienced what we were going through & didn’t know what else to say.  These are not bad things to say, but when you are in the midst of difficult times, it isn’t always what you want to hear.
What ministered to me most was when someone listened.  They didn’t try to fix our problems, they didn’t suggest we do different things to get out of our struggles.  They asked how things were going, they really wanted to hear & as I explained, they listened.  Once I was done, they asked if they could pray for me.

If you have a friend who is going through a really difficult time, please be sensitive and don’t try to fix their problems.  If God leads you to help in some physical way, that is great.  But many times, the Lord uses us in the lives of others in non-tangible ways.  Here are some ways that you can encourage & support a friend experiencing difficult times.

Pray. If you tell that person that you are going to pray, then DO IT!  Don’t just say you will.  I almost always know when people are praying for us.  They ask often how we are doing.  They remember our prayer requests because they are lifting them up on a regular basis.  Sometimes I’ll get a card in the mail or an email or text letting me know that I am on their mind. Recently during an extremely difficult time, I received on a daily basis numerous text messages from a select group of friends reminding me they were praying for me.  It brought me more comfort than they will ever know.  Just to know that others are concerned and are diligently praying for us, lifting us up eased my fears and concerns.

Listen.  If every time your friend pours her heart out & you suggest ways for her to get out of her circumstance or things he can do, they will eventually quit coming to you.  When I need advice, I know who to go to.  But if I just need a friend to listen, I know who to call because I know she will listen.  They knew they didn’t have the answer.  They knew what God was taking us through was for a reason.  They knew that in order for God’s plan to be accomplished we had to go through it, and couldn’t go around it. It is ok, to not know what to say to someone going through a difficult time, that is when the simple phrase, “I am so sorry” works.

Be Quiet.  Do not ever talk to anyone else about anything your friend has told you unless she says you can.  If someone has told you something & you fear for her life, that is different.  But otherwise, do not even mention it even if you don’t say your friends’ name.  If you want your friend to trust you, keep it quiet, between you & the Lord.  Ask if you can share it with your husband & explain that you & your husband will pray for her.  But if she says not to share with your husband, please respect her enough not to tell your husband.

If you have experienced difficulties then you can bring comfort to a friend in a way that is special. If you have not yet experienced great difficulties, just wait because they are coming and the friend you are watching go through a hard time may be the very one who becomes the shoulder you lean on. Be sensitive to her needs now.  Give her space to experience what God has placed in her path.  Pray diligently for her and be available if she needs you.  Let God use you to bring comfort and support. 
He does have a plan and maybe you are part of it. 
 Maybe you aren’t.  

Just stay out of the way and let Him work.  

Walk with your friend.  Be there...that speaks more to her than anything you could ever speak.