8 Things to NEVER Say When Your Friend Hurts

Do you know what to say when someone is in serious emotional and spiritual pain?

When Jonathan McComb lost his wife, Laura, and their two children in the Texas Hill Country flood, friends wondered what they should say. When a man’s heart and mind are shattered and in shock, sometimes what he needs more than words, is a silent hug, a gentle smile, and a I-love-you-pat on the back. Part of what he needs is loving silence.

As a young and inexperienced pastor, I had very little first-hand acquaintance with human suffering, grief, or pain. In those early days when I entered a room where someone was hurting and no one was speaking, I felt the need to say something, anything. After all I was the pastor, the professional spokesperson for God. Too often my efforts at trying to sound wise backfired.

Over time, and after a good number of blunders, I learned some things to say and some things not to say. To prevent you from doing the same kind of damage I did, let me offer you –

Eight Things You Should NEVER Say To Some Who Hurts.

  1. Don’t be Fatalistic: “This is God’s will. Accept it. He knows best.
  2. Don’t be Unsympathetic: “It could be a lot worse. Just be thankful.
  3. Don’t be Agnostic: “It’s just bad luck. God has nothing to do with this.
  4. Don’t be Judgmental:      “Maybe this is God’s way of getting your attention. Maybe you need to pray for forgiveness.”
  5. Don’t be Super-spiritual: “God is more interested in your soul. This will help you grow spiritually and get you closer to God.
  6. Don’t be Critical: “God never causes suffering. He wants us to be healthy and happy. It’s the work of the Devil. This will make you better.”
  7. Don’t be  Ego-Centric: “I know just how you feel. Let me tell you about my loss. You think you are suffering; my family has really experienced pain. Let me tell you all about it.”
  8. Don’t be Condescending: “Don’t cry. Take it like Jesus did. Be a good Christian. Don’t be upset. Just look around and you can see people who have things a lot worse.”

Dr. Bill Nichols

Special note.

For more information about how your emotions, mind, and spirit can work together to help you make good decisions and to learn additional practical steps, Bible insights, and helpful examples on developing a healthy faith, I invite you to accept a FREE Introduction Chapter and Table of Contents of my new book, Healthy Faith: A Strategic Lifestyle Plan to Transform Your Head, Heart, and Hands.

 

For your FREE Preview Introduction Chapter and Table of Contents, click here.

To learn more about Dr. Bill Nichols and Healthy Faith, click here.

To purchase a copy of Healthy Faith, click here.

what-are-they-saying
Author Info

Bill Nichols

Comments ( 4 )

  • Karen

    What should I say then? I often face the same problem too. I want to make my friend feel better, but I don’t know just how to do that or what to say to ease her pain. Sometimes I just remain silent and let her burst all her hurts out but I feel useless having done such. What should I do?

    • Bill Nichols

      Karen, I just saw your response and question. Our Lord will be with you in your desire to help you minister. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve written a brief article about some helpful things you can say to help. See my article on “Things you SHOULD say when someone hurts.” Blessings. Bill

  • Good post, which reflects what we learn as ministers after and through a few blunders, God finally teach us the silent language of compassion. Seminary never prepares us for the real.

    • Bill Nichols

      Thank you Sheldon. We all need to keep learning, don’t we. Some of us need to keep re-learning even the big things. Blessings. Bill

Post a Comment