People that are carrying a heavy load of trials sure can use a hand. The pressure can sometimes be overwhelming. In my new book “The Compassionate Shepherd” I try to give those in leadership some practical advice on how to help those that are in our realm of responsibility that are going through trials. Here is another excerpt from Chapter one, “The Common Condition of Trials.”
When we see people in our care go through difficulties, it is invaluable to acknowledge their pain. People that are hurting appreciate so much when others “get it.” We can encourage someone by simply letting them know, that we are aware that they are struggling.
In my own experience, my wife Joann and I were caregivers for 28 years for our son Johnny who had multiple disabilities and was also profoundly deaf. We had our share of trials as he was growing up; he had over 40 surgeries and was in the hospital as an inpatient for more than 2 years of his life. It was an encouragement to us when people would let us know they were praying, and wanted to really know how we were doing.
We need to be aware of the fact that the everyday trials that come into the lives of people without a chronic load of trials still happens to those that have special crosses to bear. Caregivers, for example, have to care for the medical and physical needs of their loved one; doctor appointments, medications, being sure they are nourished. But they also have their own bills to pay, cars to fix, and families to attend to. They don’t become exempt from the everyday trials because they have an extra load.
Marriages that have a child with disabilities, or are caring for an aging parent, are under a tremendous amount of pressure. The stress level is “off the charts” many times. After our son Johnny went to heaven, people began to tell Joann and me how good we looked. I mean, did we really look that bad before? I believe it is because we finally began to get some rest. When you are in the midst of raising a child with disabilities, you don’t realize how tired you are, you are simply doing the necessary things.
I have heard other preachers say, “We are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or headed into a trial.” Well, I can tell you from experience that many times we get hit like God’s servant Job did. One trial will pile on top of another trial, and we can become overwhelmed very quickly.
That is when the Compassionate Shepherd can be a great help to the flock. You won’t have all the answers, you won’t have any profound words, but your presence will bring great comfort to those that are hurting. Letting those that are hurting know that you are hurting with them and praying for them will give them comfort. When it comes to helping the hurting, we need to be proactive, not reactive.
I believe that most of us want to help others that are burdened with troubles. We just don’t know what to do or say most of the time. Just acknowledging their pain is a help. Simply asking, “How Can I help you?” in itself is a help.