By Miki Maynard
Listen to the One Suffering
In my first course of seminary the professor had us read a book about people who are suffering. I’m going to be vulnerable. At first, I was disappointed because it wasn’t what I was expecting to be the first assignment. However, it didn’t take long until I discovered some very important things. I always want to remain teachable. It had different perspectives about people who were involved in the trial of suffering.
The participants had a conversation with many strong views on what they think God is like. The story caused me to reflect on how I would seek God if I was the one in pain, and it took me farther than that. I must ask the question; how would I treat someone when they are suffering?
In the story the person is in the midst of agonizing heart break, loss, and physical pain. Their friends say they are trying to help. The more they talk, however, it becomes evident that they have an attitude that is self-righteous. Words that are supposed to bring comfort become words of judgment.
Thrown Into a Situation of Someone Suffering
Right as my class was ending, I was notified of an urgent problem. I found myself thrown into a situation of someone who was experiencing agony, grief, and injustice. I couldn’t believe that this was happening right at the same time of the required reading for my course. Now I’m finding myself out of the experience of reading what was happening in the book to suddenly experiencing it in real life. This person needed me.
I’ll refer to this person as “the one” so they can have privacy. Their suffering made them feel isolated and devastated. The one was surrounded by some people who had all kinds of negative things to say. They spread their story to other friends and family. Regretfully, ulterior motives negatively influenced people and they didn’t realize that there were many things going on that they didn’t understand.
It made the one feel even worse. It began to wear and tear down how they normally think. Usually, very confident and happy, now, they were in despair and hopelessness.
What Can Be Said That Does Any Good?
In the story line of the book, their “friend’s” words aren’t helping them at all. In my situation, “friends” began to tell the one suffering what they thought as well as others. It made the one suffering feel misrepresented, so the pain grew deeper, and anger grew bigger.
When I was on my way to be with the one, I was praying and asking Yahweh what to do. Immediately, the Holy Spirit said, “listen.” So, when I finally arrived, I listened. I listened and listened again, day after day. Sure, I was helping with practical things, but the main act that I knew was so very important to do, was to simply listen.
The more I was silent, the more the one felt like they were able to talk. They were finally being heard. It became a safe place to cry. It is now a moment to grieve. It was at that point that I knew the one was finding comfort that they needed so badly. Comfort that they hadn’t had for a very long time.
Comfort Comes from Love
Gently, when the time was right, I was led to say a few words that gave reassurance and support. I took some steps and gave a little guidance that was needed to gather support from trustworthy friends who love the one. Then the one started feeling steadfastness arise in their heart and began reaching out. It wasn’t long before message after message started pouring in to show fondness to the one.
I learned that loving someone who is suffering through listening is a gift to them. The tattered and trodden heart and mind is slowly being rebuilt. Despair and helplessness are diminishing. Destructive voices are growing dim. A new light of courageous hope is strengthening the heart. The one is finding comfort and knows they are not alone.
Love protects. Love builds up. Love helps. Love is present. I believe love listens.