(Encouraging the Faith of a Hurting Friend)
“And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering.” (Jude 1:22 NLT)
By Fr. Chris Lee OFR
I’m sure that most of us have seen those heart warming memes that come around on social media. I saw one recently that really spoke to me. I don’t know who created the art, but the meme basically said that “True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back to light”. I also saw one that said, “To have a good friend you must first be a good friend”. Let’s face it, true friendship is gritty. It’s not always butterflies and roses. Sometimes friendship is difficult because our friends are struggling with life, struggling with faith, struggling with pain. Sometimes, even our best Christian friends don’t understand what God is doing, or why they are in crisis. How do we help them? How do we step into that dark place and lead them back to light?
Be there or be present with them in the moment/s. A lot of people think they must have all the answers or say just the right thing. What is really needed is just our actual presence in their crisis. Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” (NLT) Our presence should be flexible, and without expectations. We must keep our guard up as to not try to “fix it”. I think about the book of Job, and the many crisis he experienced. It was helpful when his friends came to just sit with him in the situation so that he knew he wasn’t alone. Sometimes all that is needed is a listening ear. What was not helpful in that situation was when his friends tried to “fix it”. As one of my old Professors used to say, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. (Theodore Roosevelt)
Be patient with them and don’t try to rush the process. It is easy for some people to assess the amount of time involved in a struggle and come to the judgment that their friend should move on. The problem is that struggles are experienced differently by each person. Don’t rush your friend to “just get over it”. True friendships are intended to last and endure, so be patient and allow your friend to process at a speed that is consistent with their natural resilience. Remember that triggers can always cause setbacks. God is very patient with us, we must also be patient with others, especially our struggling friends. Then, when it’s time, speak the Word of God in love. (Eph. 4:15). Encourage them with the love of Jesus and demonstrate that love through action.
- Do you have any friends that are going through difficult times?
- Are you ready to step in the dark place with them and lead them back to the light?