Today I’ve got a really special guest post for you, written by my friend Kelli of Eat Pray Read Love. She’s sharing some wonderful tips to show us how to help suffering friends or family member in each of our lives. She speaks as some one who has walked many difficult roads, and I really appreciate the advice she gives! I’ve found her words to be true through my own hard times as well. Kelli is also a recently published author, and she’s sharing a bit about her book today! This post contains affiliate links.
Not much can thrust sudden fear into a parent’s life like that of a major illness of a child. The day after our first-born child Landon entered this world, my husband and I learned the meaning of gut-wrenching fear like we had never experienced before. Our pediatrician entered my hospital room and told us that our baby would probably have to be sent to a larger hospital due to some elevated lab results. By the end of that day, he was gone, and I had to stay another night at the hospital where I delivered because of my C-section.
The night that I spent without my newborn baby and husband is when I learned the meaning of the word “fear.” It was overwhelming and I had never felt so helpless.
Landon’s ambulance ride to that hospital (in another state) that day was the beginning of a ride we never imagined we’d take, including endless lab draws, doctors’ visits three times a week, countless procedures, three hospital stays, a biopsy, and a nine-hour surgery- all before he was seven weeks old.
Although depending on God and one another was vital, the help of others during our time of fear was definitely critical in getting through the dark days. I truly don’t know how we would have come out of the hardest- and most fearful- time of our lives without the help and support of others.
After blogging multiple times over the years about our experiences with our son, what we had learned, and what I wish we had done differently during that time, I decided it was time to write a book. This April, after 2 1/2 years of writing during stolen moments, I published my very first book: His Grace is Enough: Looking for God’s comfort in times of trial
Through the (virtual) pages, I share our story about the immense pain we suffered, yet how God’s grace sustained us through the illness of our son. Interspersed are the stories of other Christian women who have traveled the road of tragedy in their lives, including the mom of one of the victims of the 1999 Bonfire collapse at Texas A&M.
We learned so much about what it means to have good, true friends during a hard time. We learned how to be better friends ourselves. We learned to put our faith into action.
Do you have a friend traveling a rough road right now? These four suggestions are ways that you can effectively minister to someone who is experiencing fear during a challenging time.
1)Let them cry- and cry with them
One of the greatest gifts you can give a person in a fearful situation is a listening ear and a box of Kleenex. Friends and family who listened to us- and wept with us- were truly a blessing during this time. I have heard so many stories of other people in situations similar to ours, and their friends basically abandoned them when times got tough. I am so thankful that we were surrounded by love during that time period.
If you know someone who is suffering, walking away may be easiest. But it’s probably not right. Sometimes it is hard to be empathetic, but the Bible calls us to this very act in Romans 12:15.
2) Offer them specific help- and follow through
Fear is often compounded by having to deal with everyday life. Our friends and church family so helpful in these tasks- I don’t think we cooked for about three weeks after we got home from Landon’s initial hospital stay.
When offering to help, don’t say, “Call me if you need me.” Rarely will someone actually call to ask for help. Instead, say, “I would like to come help you with laundry on Monday. Would that work for you?” This also holds you more accountable to actually following through- I know that when I tell someone I’ll do x,y,z sometime– it may or may not get done. Putting a specific date on the calendar makes you much more likely to follow through, and allows the person you’re helping be able to plan.
3) Pray for them continually and share scripture that you think will encourage them
Our church at the time (where my husband was youth pastor) really represented the body of Christ during our trial, and one of their greatest ministries was continual prayer for us. I cannot tell you how many phone calls and cards we received telling us that they were lifting up our son in prayer. And the prayer wasn’t limited to the older people in the church- one of the greatest treasures we received during that time was a video of our youth standing in a circle praying for us.
Taking the time to pray for a family that you know is suffering is a great way to be involved, even if you live far away. If possible, let them know you are praying.
When sharing Scripture with a person who is suffering, it is best if you communicate verses to them that you feel specifically led to share. For example, if you know someone who is fearful and going through a divorce, and you happen to read Psalm 147:3- “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”- and think of your friend, let your friend know. A person is much more likely to receive Scripture if you tell them that a verse brought them to mind, rather than throwing Bible verses at them by rote.
If you’d like to like to purchase the book, you can do so by clicking that link and ordering on Amazon! It’s a quick read, yet will hopefully provide you with resources you need to navigate a tough time, or help someone else do so. If you don’t have a Kindle, don’t worry, you can still enjoy the book straight from your computer. I’ll teach you how to read a kindle ebook without a kindle here.
Have you endured a particularly hard time in which certain friends and family members were extra supportive and loving towards you? What types of things did you find the most comforting and helpful? Or, what things do you do, to comfort and love on the suffering friends and family members that you might have?