Last week, I wrote two articles about wounded Christians. The first was a book review. The second engaged with the possibility that wounds might not heal, not immediately and perhaps not at all in this life. I wanted to follow this up with an article suggesting things you can do to help another Christian who is obviously wounded. So, in no particular order
- Be honest. Don’t make promises you cannot keep and cannot be certain about. We wish that it would all get better but we cannot claim that. Beware unhelpful platitudes like “time is a healer.” It isn’t. Even when people heal over time, it isn’t because time did the healing. God, medicine, the body’s natural healing properties did that! Similarly don’t claim to know what they are going through and to understand when you don’t
- Walk with them. Learn to empathise not just sympathise. This means being ready to simply be there, to listen, to be quiet, not to explain, not to say “it’s a bit like.” Simply go on the journey with them as far as you can, experiencing some of their pain.
- Help them to get resolution. In a previous article, I talked about stemming the flow of blood and binding up wounds. That means stepping in as the Matthew 18 witnesses to try and bring the wounder to repentance. It means advocating for them and supporting them if they seek justice. It means that if the problem causer needs to be removed from the situation, you make sure that it is them that leave and not the victim. That is likely to mean church discipline in many cases.
- Advocate for them but don’t take over for them. If they need, look for, ask for someone to speak up for them then be ready but don’t take their place when they have the capacity to speak for themselves and don’t publicise their case under the pretext of seeking justice when what they want and need is privacy.
- Be normal with them. That means encouraging them to do stuff, thanking them when they are a help to you, appreciating the good things they do and challenging them when they get things wrong. A sufferer is not an angel, they will still make things wrong, they will still sin. Be the friend and brother/sister to them that you should be in Christ.
- Allow them to serve. Listen to them when they tell you what they can and cannot handle. Wounded people, properly cared for in the life of the church are often the best people to know their own capacity over time.
- Pray for them. Do pray that they will experience God’s healing. It is good to ask for what we would like. But of course pray also that they will know God’s grace in their circumsntances.
- Share God’s Word with them. Encourage them from Scripture.