Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Helping someone feeling badly

Mark Baddeley [hence the title] has written a lengthy, very helpful article at The Sola Panel about how we can help our friends who are experiencing depression.

It is a terrific article, as are the comments and comments on comments.

Here is my summary of what he says.

Don't tell your friend to just get over it.
Don't even tell him to trust God.
The effect of this is giving him one more thing to whip himself with, because he is already accusing himself of failure for not trusting God.

And your solution can sound like telling him to fix himself up by his action of trusting in God.

Some people have burdens greater than they can bear, which is why God tells us to bear one another's burdens. The only way some people will get through is with others helping to carry their burdens.

Instead of telling your friend to pray, pray for him yourself. Do for him what he would do, if he could.

Instead of telling him to trust God, give him a reason to trust God.
Talk about how great and good God is; how his mercies are ever renewed; how we don't have to muster up faith to get access to his grace; how he holds us up even as we trip and fall; how the Father who gave up his eternally loved Son for us when he and us were at each other's throats is a Father who is really there for us now that we are his children.
Talk about God to them—as though that is life itself.
Finish by saying, “He's on your side; he's going to carry you through this, however bad it gets”. Sometimes it's okay to just declare the promises of God and not ask for any response in the short-term.

Sometimes people need to be told, “Trust God!”; sometimes people need to hear “God can be trusted!” The downcast are in the latter camp. Serve them by sensitively exalting the God of life in the face of death.

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