In the last post on this subject I hope I demonstrated at least to some small degree that we will all experience suffering at some point in our lives. Some will have short bursts, others will have longer exposure but pain and suffering will come. Jesus, Paul and Peter definitively express this fact. So how do we deal with it? How do we help others through it? As we are not islands, Scripture makes it clear we are a community of believers in His church. The church, then, needs to know how to be a haven for its own suffering people. Author and teacher Nancy Guthrie offers six ways to accomplish this in her address at The Gospel Coalition 2011 titled “Is Your Church a Safe Place for Hurting People.”
A safe church will
1. Overcome the awkwardness to engage with the hurting person
We need to overcome our fear and talk to the hurting saint.
2. Make room for tears and sadness
People need time to heal. They will be sad. Give them room for a time to cry.
3. Go deeper than deliverance in prayer
Stop trying to pray away suffering. Pray that the suffering will be used to bring God glory.
4. Gently challenge spiritualism and sentimentality with spiritual truth
Teach and preach the truth. Get away from false assumptions about trials & suffering.
5. Anticipate family (both blood and church) pressure points
Hurting people will feel out of place, come along side them, be with them. Help them to start to turn their focus away from themselves.
6. Facilitate turning misery into ministry
Suffering people need to turn their misery into ministry by helping others. Through serving healing comes.
My few notes above do not do justice to Guthrie’s talk. I strongly urge you to listen, pray and apply these few principles for those who are hurting in your church.