How do you help your brother in need? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
I appreciate the concern for yesterday’s post. I am in a better place today. It had been a time of a lot heading at me the day before that it had just been overbearing and now things are doing much better after making some necessary changes.
Still, I am usually a moody and quiet individual. Last night while out in public, I encountered two ladies and one of them said that she hopes I’m in better mood tomorrow and to smile. After all, God loves you.
Now that stuck with me. It’s not because I was overcome with sudden joy. It’s not because I question the claim. It’s because as I heard it, that claim was extremely shallow. Let’s do this by putting in some other situations.
Imagine if this lady had met someone whose son had just died in a car accident or whose husband had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How would that have come over? It would be true, naturally, but it wouldn’t really address what the person is going through.
As I thought about it, it got me thinking of James 2.
“15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”
Charles Schulz once did this comic that shows what James has in mind.
So how is Snoopy better off after this? Not a bit. If anything, he has less care for those who came over to comfort him. He’s cold in the snow and has just been given a feel-good saying.
By contrast, I remember encountering someone who I could tell was going through a hard time yesterday and did something radical. I asked what was wrong. I then listened and gave a comment of support back. This is someone who knows me so I told them I would pray for their situation as I had to go and it was appreciated.
Notice that first part. What is wrong? That was actually asked. It wasn’t just “Cheer up, buttercup.” Scripture tells us to do this. Mourn with those who mourn. If James is concerned about physical needs, could he also be concerned about emotional, spiritual, mental, situational, etc. needs?
Sometimes, that could require a time investment. If you don’t have it, it could be best to not offer anything. Keep in mind also some of us with personalities are very different anyway. Normally, I do not smile a lot and I do not talk to people I don’t know a lot. That can be even if I am in a good mood.
Let’s also keep in mind that I am sure that Jesus in the Garden knew that God loved Him and knew that on the cross, but Jesus is not happy at those points. Jesus is a sad Jesus. He says His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Knowing God loves you does not mean you will always be happy.
I cannot explain why that is, but we all know that it’s true. Now consider that I am a Christian hearing this saying. What happens if you are not a Christian? How do you see Christians then? Could you not be more like Gideon who is told “The Lord is with you?” and be wanting to say, “If that’s true, then why XYZ?”
Some non-Christians could be hardened against God.
So what do you do with the sufferers? You actually enter into their suffering. You try to understand where they’re coming from. That does require work and effort and you have to determine if you can do that at the time. If not, maybe don’t say anything and just pray on your own for the well-being of the person and help for what they are going through.
God loves you, but sometimes, you do need to just be heard and listened to. Sometimes it can help a person even if you don’t even say anything back. If they just know you’re listening, that can be enough. Platitudes though are looked down on for a reason, whether they’re true or not. The intent may be good, but it doesn’t come across well.
Try entering into the suffering instead. It’s definitely worth it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)