October 06, 2009

How to Help a Wounded Person

Written By Cary Schmidt

One of the most difficult circumstances of life and ministry is to try to help someone who has been deeply hurt. These are hard moments. More than anything, you want to take away the hurt, undo the pain, and fix the problem. But it’s just not that easy. Woundedness—regardless of how it occurred—requires time and God’s grace in order to heal.

Here are a few thoughts (not exhaustive by any means) that you might be able to place in your tool box to encourage and help those who are wounded.

First—Teach through Hebrews 12. Much of life’s pain is not disciplinary in nature—but all of it is allowed of God and is intended to be used by Him to produce good in our lives (Romans 8:28). Hebrews 12 deals powerfully with how Christians should respond to wounds and chastening—by claiming God’s grace and turning away from bitterness. As I study this passage it seems that chastening can be both disciplinary and nurturing in nature. In other words, it’s not always about discipline, but it is always difficult and painful.

Second—Emphasize God’s Desire to Heal. (vs. 13) The focus of Hebrews 12 is the peaceable fruit—the outcome of grace. Help the hurting person find hope in looking forward. In time, God’s grace can work all things to our eventual profit. Satan wants the hurting to only focus on the past—the hurt. After all, it’s difficult to imagine how the abuse of another can produce something good in me! God calls His child to “lift up the hands which hang down.” He offers hope in what is yet to come by His grace.

Third—Call the Hurting to Pursue Peace with All Men. (v. 14) For God’s healing, the wounded must have a right heart toward the relationships of life—even the broken ones. This is a bit different for each situation, and forgiveness is always a journey—a process of forgiving over and over again. But one condition of God’s healing is that the hurting must have an agenda of peace not revenge or resentment.

Fourth—Teach the Hurting to Repeatedly Claim Grace. (vs. 15-16) Every hurt brings a spiritual fork in the road—one path leads to grace and the other to bitterness. This passage reveals that bitterness defiles but grace heals. And grace is a choice—a diligent decision. In other words, the default path is bitterness. The grace path must be claimed by “looking diligently”—carefully determining not to miss it.

Fifth—Emphasize the Patience Required for Recovery. (Hebrews 10:36, 12:1, and James 1:3) People often expect instant recovery. But the simple truth is—a problem that took 5 or 10 or even 20 years to create doesn’t just go away in one counseling session or even one week. The reality—God’s grace is a process born out of intimacy with Him. By God’s design, He wants the wounded to find Him and to walk personally with Him, gradually experiencing the daily renewing, restoring power of His presence. Instant healing is not conducive to intimacy. God heals as we abide.

Some years ago I gave a short list to a hurting young man and asked him to keep it and read or pray it every day as a part of his walk with God and his daily decision to claim grace. He did. And he grew! God’s healing has been evident in his life for several years now. Not long ago, he opened his wallet, pulled this little list out, and said, “Remember this?” We both smiled, and I thanked God for His awesome grace. Here’s the little list:

  1. I’m saved
  2. I am highly valuable, wanted and important to God
  3. God has a great plan for my future
  4. God will give me strength for today if I ask for it
  5. I will honor God and my authorities today
  6. God, please be my best friend today
  7. God, please give me healing and grace today

Not exactly impressive. Not really rocket science. But maybe it’s a tool you can use to encourage someone else to find God’s healing through His grace! What passages or tools do you find helpful in ministering to wounded people?

(Post a comment below. And consider sharing this article with someone who could be encouraged by it.)