10 Ways to Support Christians in Trouble

When Life Doesn’t Go as You Expect #7

This is the last post in my series of what to do when life doesn’t go as you expect. Christians go through trials all the time and we have to expect that it’s going to happen, but it can be hard to watch someone else going through something and not know what to say or do.

Obviously a lot of help and counsel is specific to the situation that people are facing, but here are some general suggestions that I think can help when we know a fellow brother or sister that is going through difficulties:

1. Love and befriend them

When people go through hard times it is easy to avoid them because you don’t know what to say. But if you think about it that is one of the worst things you can do. They will already be struggling with various emotions, and adding loneliness will make it a lot worse. Even if you don’t know what to say, just going to them and saying, “I’m sorry” and giving them a hug can be a great help. The Bible says to weep with those who weep, so we should give sympathy when others are distressed.

2. Don’t jump to conclusions

When Job lost just about all he had, his friends told him he must have done something to deserve it. We might not say that to our friends outright, but we may think it and if they guess what we are thinking they could be very hurt. Often things are not what they seem, so it is better not to judge or criticise, but rather help and comfort.

Sometimes confronting someone on an ongoing and unrepentant sin is called for, but then we need to ask enough questions to have all the facts first, and be in a position close to them to be able to do that graciously.

3. Offer practical help

Often a situation may seem overwhelming and it may look like there is nothing that we could say that would help. But there still may be practical things that we can do. The best thing is to offer something specific, as if you just offer general help they probably won’t take you up on it.

Some specific things that might help depending on the situation are: a cooked meal brought round to them, cleaning their house, getting their shopping and looking after children. Also just a card, flowers or a gift can be a real blessing and help uplift someone’s heart.

4. Encourage them

One of the key purposes of the church is to encourage each other, and there are many ways we can do that, such as:

Remind them of the good – it can be easy just to see the negative things going on.

Remind them that God has a plan – and part of this is that we can comfort others better because of what we have been through, and also that we can become more like Christ through our trials.

Remind them of key things to hold on to – like God loves you, and He will never leave you.

5. Give perspective

When bad things happen our responses are often emotional and we lose sight of the big picture. It can really help to have a friend nearby who can keep us in perspective, remind us of what we are here for, what God has called us to do, and what is really important.

6. Give hope

This is one of the most important things to do when you are trying to help people with problems, because if we have no hope we give up even trying. Along with many Bible promises which are good to know, here are some things you can help them to understand or remind them of, to give hope:

  • The Bible has the answers to life’s problems (2 Tim 3:16,17)
  • Trials are temporary (1 Peter 1:6)
  • Others have also gone through this (1 Cor 10:13)
  • God won’t give you more than you can handle (1 Cor 10:13)
  • He will give you a way of escape and will bring you through (1 Cor 10:13)
  • One day when we get to heaven we won’t have to deal with any of it anymore! (Rev 21:4)

7. Don’t minimise

When someone says to you, “I’m a bad person” they may just need a bit of encouragement that they’re not that bad, but often if they are genuinely down and you do that you will minimise what they are trying to say, and they will think that you’re not taking them seriously and lose hope.
One thing I have learned from my counselling course is to be careful not to do that. It is better to ask questions as to what makes them think that, then maybe you will be able to help them. If they have sinned then you can point them to confession and repentance.

8. Pray for them

Prayer is so powerful! I try and always shoot a quick prayer up for someone, and then write a little sticky note to pray for them if I’m at my desk, to remind me.

Praying with people is also very encouraging. My husband is very good at that, and I’m trying to get better at it! The other day he prayed for me while I was there, and it really helped me to know for sure that someone else had prayed for me, not just hope they had!

9. Memorise verses

Yes hard work I know!!! But even if you don’t review them regularly, just learning verses and knowing roughly where they are and what they say can help you a lot in being able to effectively minister to people! Honestly it is so worth it to KNOW that what you are saying is in the Bible, and not wonder about it. Soon I hope to post the verses that we put in our recent ministry training scripture memory pack. They are all great for ministering to others. In the meantime, here are some verses that might be a good starting point for you, and more here!

10. Help them to find the biblical solution

Sometimes there’s nothing to do but trust God and hold on, but other times there are things that can be done. The Bible has practical answers, but we need to know how to find them. Here are some tips on finding solutions for specific problems in the Bible:

Read the whole Bible regularly – I read it once through every year, and the New Testament and Psalms twice, and it really helps to give me an all-round knowledge of Biblical principles, and where things are located.

Figure out what the problem is in Biblical terms – it is easier to find the biblical solution when you know what it’s called in the Bible.

Use study helps – I love my Thompson Chain Reference Bible as it is great to look up topics in the back and find lots of verses for them. E-sword is a free Bible software program that you can download, with a topical reference and lots more. You can go to a concordance and look up specific words and their verses, or go to your pastor or someone else who knows their Bible well.

Read appropriate books – many people won’t read a book if you lend it to them, but if you read it yourself you might be able to glean enough to be able to help them. A great directory of books that help with various problems in life is at Timeless Texts, a ministry of Jay Adams, who is a great Biblical counsellor. There is also a book called Quick Scripture Reference for Counselling, and another for youth and women, which are great books to go to for quick answers.

Is there anything that a friend has said or done that has really helped you through a hard time? Please add to this in the comments if you can think of more suggestions!

You can find the rest of the series on when life doesn’t go as you expect here:

1. Being Prepared For Trials
2. Trust that God has a Plan
3. Hold On to What You Know
4. Prayer Changes Things
5. Take Responsibility
6. Keep Pressing Toward the Goal

I’m linking up with Women Living Well today, where you can find lots more blogs to read:

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7 Responses

  1. Wow! Reading the Bible once a year and the NT and Psalms twice is phenomenal. Well done, Rhoda!!

  2. Gail Purath says:

    This is a thorough list of ways to help those in need. I especially like your point about Job’s friends…not playing the blame game. When I’ve gone through difficulties, I think someone who listens and doesn’t try to “fix” things is the dearest companion. It’s especially hard when someone who doesn’t fully understand the problem tries to give you easy solutions. Crying with those who cry is a great way to comfort. I like that you’ve cross linked so much of what you say with other posts. Good job. I’m a new follower and I’d love to have you visit my site: Bible Love Notes: http://biblelovenotes.com.
    Thanks! Gail

  3. Rhoda says:

    Thanks Anita, I have tried other ways of reading the Bible but I always come back to this one because I like it best! It is 4 chapters a day and all from different parts of the Bible so it’s like a 4 course meal 🙂

    Gail thanks for visiting and commenting! It is very easy for us to try to give quick solutions without knowing all the facts first. I have just visited your blog – thanks for the link 🙂

  4. e-Mom says:

    So nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by at Susannah’s {Kitchen}. I can tell you’re sold out to the Lord. Amen!

    I love your blog’s header, BTW. Such a beautiful scenic photo.


    Marilyn (aka e-Mom) @ Susannah’s {Kitchen}

  5. Rhoda says:

    Hi Marilyn, thanks for visiting! I love beautiful scenery with mountains and lakes, so I just had to put something like that up there 🙂

  6. Amy Sullivan says:

    Great tips, Rhoda. Very practical, and I’m all about practical.

    So often when those we care about struggle, we do feel helpless. This is a great resource for all.

    Glad to bounce over from the link-up.

  7. Such a perfect post for me. My friend is coming to visit who just lost her son in a trajic car accident in April.

    Thank you for letting the Spirit work in you.