Sometimes it is hard to gather the courage to handle the difficult things in life. No more so when crushing events happen to those we know. Whether it is a serious illness, injury, loss, or death we need to take stock and ask the Lord how we can come alongside and serve them.
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
How do we exactly bear one another’s burdens? I found a number of things that helped me when my parents and sister passed. The same concepts encouraged me when I was very depressed in my sophomore year of college, and when dealing with reverse culture shock after coming back from Romania when I did not want to be in America. I am not one for a final list of ways to help, however, I think there are several keys that will put any Christian on sound footing to help a loved one.
I find that being at your loved one’s side. Be an example of Christ to them. Do not forsake them in their time of need. The early Christian church used short hymns and phrases that were encouraging then, and can be helpful now in times of stress and doubt. Two of them are written into the book of Hebrews to bring courage to the persecuted church. We can embody these phrases for those who are hurting.
Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
6 So we say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?”
Do Practical Things
When there is too much emotional stress, there is often an overwhelming need for others to do simple tasks, like cooking, cleaning, and answering phone calls. Ask what you can do; give your time. Share your love by your deeds.
Hebrews 13:16 “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Some events are so fresh or grief stricken that words are too much or have been already spoken. Do not berate the point. Just pray, for prayer is powerful. James was not implying ever time someone is sick that they are healed. For other areas in the new testament indicate that the great apostle Paul was ill, Timothy, and others in the church were sick during their ministries, and all eventually died from their last illness. However, he is indicating that prayer is powerful, and if the Lord has mercy in the situation, He will help, heal, and always be effective to forgive us.
James 5:13-16 “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Give Wise Advice
Providing wise advise with the right amount of tact is important. People who are struggling can hear our words as a loud exclamation point either good or bad. Be sure not to make a painful situation worse.
Proverbs 20:15 “There is gold and abundance of costly stones, but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.”
Fulfill the Law of Christ
Remember that when helping to bear another’s burden, you are fulfilling the law of Christ. The apostle James gives us wise advice on how a good deed can capture the essence of following Christ.
James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Our loved one may not be a widow or orphan, but we can be encouraged by the Christian ethic of looking out after those less fortunate or in need. Remember that the Lord is with you, and can help you help them. Fear of the unknown due to a job loss, or in the loss of one’s health can be paralyzing. We need to support those we love. Ask God to give us the courage to encourage!
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2016 (Ga 6:2), (Heb 13:5–6), (Heb 13:16), (Pr 20:15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
The Holy Bible: New International Version. 1984 (Jas 5:13–16), (Jas 1:27). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.