Help for the Hurting

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. – James 5:16

Here’s a good question for this Friday morning - when we hear about a fellow brother or sister in Christ who has stumbled and fallen into sin, what do we do? Google their name? Post on social media? Text or call our friends and family to get more information? Maybe react with self-righteous indignation and say to someone (or ourselves), “Well I would never do that - how could he/she?!?” How about praying? Do we stop everything, get on our knees, and intercede on behalf of our brother or sister who has fallen?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but my answer to that last question is no, my first response is rarely to pray for someone who has fallen into sin. Several years ago our former pastor from Seattle was caught up in a major scandal; I already had major misgivings about this individual, so when the story made national news I’m a bit ashamed to admit that in my heart I was secretly gloating and happy about his downfall. Eventually I did say some half-hearted prayers for this man and his family, but they weren’t terribly sincere or heartfelt. Jesus had to die for my sins, just like this man, and I deserved hell just as much as he did - who was I to think I was any better as I sat on my moral high horse?

Leroy Eims from The Navigators ministry wrote a thought-provoking devotional titled “Help for the Hurting.” He starts by asking these questions:

When we hear about someone who has been brought low, either through his own sin or through no fault of his own, do we weep over it? Or are we quick to condemn–quick to pass on gossip? It’s easy to snicker and to take on a holier-than-thou attitude. But it’s more profitable to pray.

He then goes on to talk about Job’s suffering and the friends who came to “comfort” him - they started out good, sitting silently for several days next to their good friend - but then they fell into “fix-it” mode, trying to figure out just where Job went wrong to experience such judgment from God. How should have Job’s friends responded - and how should we respond in situations like this? Leroy Eims gives us this answer: “Rather than punishing people with words that are as sharp as knives, we need to pray for them with words that are directed by the spirit of truth. It is through prayer that we can help hurting people focus their eyes on Christ.

Now of course there are also good deeds that can help a person who is suffering or in a tight spot in life - but the first place we should always start is on our knees. Sadly that’s often the last place I find myself, and it’s something with the Lord’s help I really want to change.

Do you know someone who is hurting today, maybe because of their own sins, or perhaps through circumstances completely beyond their control? Before you do anything else, stop and bring that person to the Lord in prayer - "we can help hurting people focus their eyes on Christ."