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Do People Make You Want to Scream?
by Cate Russell-Cole
10/19/2015 / Christian Living
Have you ever tried to help or encourage someone who was in a crisis and felt like giving up frustrated? Did they seem to sit in a rut refusing to take the clear, sensible path of action?
What is it that makes it so difficult for people to take positive action to improve their circumstances and take hold of God's promises to restore and bless? It is the choice to live in fear rather than live in hope. When the negative circumstances build up and the level of emotional pain is high, it is very easy for someone to lapse into a world of negativity and inactivity, rather than to fight against the tide.
We are programmed by the media and society to focus on the negative and fearful, the hopeless, the seemingly unfixable. We are fed a relentless diet of political problems, violence, unemployment, abuse and the list goes on and on... Our attitude to life can become habitual, and coupled with the problems we face in our lives, without a balancing opinion we become fixed into a negative, hopeless mindset.
The answers are simple and too easily preached: trust in God, pray, read your Bible, rejoice as an act of your will, fellowship, claim God's promises. The person you are trying to lift out of the rut probably knows these are the answers and struggles with putting them into action. They may have already given up trying. In the end your "spiritually correct" replies seem to them like quick fix "spiritual band-aids" and you get nowhere.
So what do you do? You don't give up. You smile, you hang in there and you continue to pray. Walking out on the person in distress or laying the blame on them will only cause further wounds and build a feeling of isolation.
Develop a plan of positive action. If you know the person well, be sensitive to the signs that they are having a bad day or slipping into deeper depression. When able, take them for a walk or some other positive activity, talk it out, encourage laughter and "time out" from problems. Be patient, just be available to pray with them and keep replacing the negatives they speak out with God's positives. You can speak God's principles into a conversation naturally, without becoming "preachy."
Remember though to keep your boundaries. If you create enough space from the beginning so that they are not a constant pressure, when the going gets tough you have a built in avenue of retreat which will not look like rejection. Also, never be a lone supporter if you can help it, having more than one supporter in that person's life will build a sense of belonging and community, and takes stress off everyone's shoulders.
Lastly, remember God most probably will not heal that person overnight, especially if there are deeply rooted problems. God works in subtle, well planned stages with perfect timing more often than in a great fanfare of miracles. By supporting and loving a brother or sister, you bless the heart of God. So keep your trust in the Lord and the healing will come in God's time.
This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Written in Australian English.
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