Although we are in no way experts, we’ve walked alongside many hurting people in various walks and stages of life. As we’ve heard the stories and deep cries of their hearts, we’ve been challenged, and our eyes have been opened to some of the needs many of them have.
Although the “church” has attempted to help and reach out to these individuals, I think we’ve often hurt the “wounded” even more, simply by not fully understanding HOW to help them. There are seven basic, but deep needs that we’ve seen as we’ve related with hurting people. This is not an exclusive list, but merely a starting point. We pray this will be useful to you as you reach out to show the love of Jesus to those who are hurting around you.
1.) They need care rather than condemnation or accusation.
A person who’s hurting needs to feel cared for, rather than feeling condemned for the wrong choices they’ve made. Many times we are quick to point out the faults that we see in their lives without first showing we care for their hearts. We can’t expect them to behave as someone who’s never faced severe pain. This expectation will only cause them more hurt, and they will often run from it. When we begin caring for their hearts and allow Jesus to begin healing them, He gently begins drawing them into a right relationship with Himself and others.
2.) They need you to listen to them, even if you can’t “fix” them.
Be available to just listen to their struggles, point them to Jesus, and allow Him to bring healing in His perfect time. We’ve found that sometimes a person needs nothing more than just a “safe” place to express their feelings. Especially if they can tell that you sincerely care. If you are quick to give a simple solution to their problems, you may make them feel as if you don’t really want to take the time to deal with them. Simplifying their circumstances with a quick solution may also be difficult for them, especially if it’s more complicated or their pain is deeper than you think. Their lives didn’t necessarily become shattered or broken overnight, and likely their healing won’t happen in this way either.
3.) They need help recognizing and taking ownership of their losses.
This is vital in their journey towards healing. They won’t get very far in being made whole if they don’t identify their losses and the pain they’ve tried to bury. Usually, the bigger the pain they’ve felt and the deeper it’s been buried, the harder this step is for them. They have learned how to “cope,” closing their heart to certain things, and it can be a painful process to wake up this “sleeping giant.” The grieving stage is very important though!
4.) They need to be able to express their feelings.
These feelings may be anger, debilitating fear, uncontrollable emotions, etc. Obviously, when it’s expressed in harmful ways, more steps need to be taken to prevent this from happening. Normally, if they are given time to process and work through their pain, their reactions will become less.
5.) They need to know that YOU can be trusted.
So many have been deeply wounded by someone they trusted. This often makes them wary of your motives, and they are hesitant to trust anyone again. They are familiar with people trying to “help” them deal with their “issues,” but they won’t open up to you if you haven’t first earned their trust. Don’t be too quick to focus on surface issues, when much deeper healing is needed.
6.) They need to know the balance between “counselor dependency” and “counselor assistance.”
There are some individuals (You’ve probably met them!) who’ve been helped in reaching a level of healing in their lives, and since it feels so good to them, they become rather possessive and dependent on you. Since they may never have felt so loved and cared for before, they now can hardly get enough of your positive and uplifting encouragement. It is important for them to know that they still need to find their security and affirmation in their relationship with Jesus, rather than in you. They also need to know that they were created to desire communion and companionship with others. However, this should be found in community instead of becoming solely dependent on any one relationship.
7.) They need help in establishing the proper view of God.
So many people have a wrong view of God, and this can be a BIG hindrance in finding healing. It’s very important that each of us are letting our lights shine, and that WE are accurately portraying what the true character of God is. We may be the only Bible they are reading. Are we “healing the hurting” or “shooting the wounded?”
I like the lyrics to this song by Chuck Girard…
“Don’t shoot the wounded, they need us more than ever. They need our love no matter what it is they’ve done. Sometimes we just condemn them, and don’t take time to hear their story…Don’t shoot the wounded, someday you might be one.
But the ones who might be struggling, we tend to judge too harshly, and refuse to try and catch them when they’re falling. We put people into boxes and we draw our hard conclusions, and when they do the things we know they should not do, we sometimes write them off as hopeless, and we throw them to the dogs. Our compassion and forgiveness sometimes seem in short supply, so I say…Don’t shoot the wounded!
We can love them and forgive them when their sin does not exceed our own. For we too have been down bumpy roads before but when they commit offenses outside the boundaries we have set, we judge them in a word and we turn them out, and we close the door. Myself, I’ve been forgiven for so many awful things. I’ve been cleansed and washed and bathed so many times that when I see a brother who has fallen from the way I just can’t find the license to convict him of his crimes. So I say… Don’t shoot the wounded!
That doesn’t mean we turn our heads when we see a brother sin and pretend that what he’s doing is all right. But we must help him see his error, we must lead him to repent. Cry with those who cry, but bring their deeds into the light. For it’s the sick that need the doctor, and it’s the lame that need the crutch. It’s the prodigal who needs the loving hand. For a man who’s in despair, there should be kindness from his friends. ‘Lest he should forsake the fear of Almighty God and turn away from God and man, So I say…Don’t shoot the wounded!”
What have you found to be important to helping those who are hurting? Or how has someone helped you when you were going through a difficult time? We would welcome your thoughts and comments!
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)