“God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” II Corinthians 1:4(MSG)
We are all familiar with the Aesop’s fable where the boy falsely cried wolf and then, when he genuinely needed help, no one would respond to his desperate situation.
Unfortunately, for those who experience long term emotional pain and anguish, the end result can be very similar to this fable. Helpers become desensitized to the sufferer’s cries for help. To them it just takes on a feel of repetitiveness, sameness and dramatic over reaction to situations. As each succeeding cry for help is raised, and then the severity of their pain seems to diminish, it appears as if everything returns to status quo, and the one crying out has survived that crisis just fine. This cause and effect leads the helpers to feel less of a need to react each time or to feel less urgency to intervene. After all, the end result always seems to be that things calm down and the one crying out settles down and is OK.
What is missing in this equation is a real understanding or discernment of the toll this emotional roller coaster experience of a life is having on the one struggling to have any sense of normalcy or stability.
Their cries become more and more excruciating as they experience the increasing insensitivity of others toward their constant and persistent travails.
This insensitivity over time seems to progressively diminish, devalue and discredit the gravity, acuteness and severity of their constant, ongoing and oppressive agony. Much of the reason for this is the inability and difficulty in being able to grasp and understand the ongoing cyclical nature of pain and suffering. In David Jeremiah’s book A Bend in the Road he states, “It’s one thing to be in trouble. You can have trouble on a nice day…these little troubles you know you can rise above. It’s another thing to be in the midst of trouble. The appropriate word would be stuck. You find yourself in a crisis with no immediate resolution. You know this thing isn’t going away. You know that when you wake up tomorrow morning, and the morning after that, this matter will leap to the forefront of your mind as soon as you wipe the sleep from your eyes. Some problem has risen up like a great tidal wave from the depths, and it dominates your landscape.”
It is hard to have a concept that, for many, their struggles are a constant ebb and flow that never ceases. There are times when the pain ebbs, that the sufferer can give the impression that everything’s OK. A very important concept to understand is that OK is relative. Comparatively, when the one who is floundering mentally and emotionally has any semblance of normalcy or has an OK day, it would be most people’s worst day.
Those in pain desperately don’t want to cry wolf because, all too often, that only adds to their despair due to the lack of a compassionate response from others who’ve tired of them and their needs.
“When you say you have compassion for someone, you are standing with that person, agonizing with him, and suffering as though you were in his shoes. Just as Christ placed himself on the cross on our behalf, we are demonstrating compassion when we take on the cross that someone else is bearing. God doesn’t want you to merely feel deeply about a person in heartbreaking circumstances. Aren’t you glad that Jesus did more than just ‘feel bad’ about your sin? He went much further than pitying our sad situation. He put Himself in our place and His love has given new meaning to the word ‘compassion.’ ” — Joni Eareckson Tada
Reflections on CRY WOLF
When we love someone who is often struggling emotionally, physically or spiritually, it can be very difficult to show compassion on an ongoing basis. We want to help but we get tired or even frustrated when they seem to have the same problems over and over again with no end in sight. When we are not the sufferer, we tend to simplify someone else’s problems. It is easy for us to give advice or to tell ourselves all of the things that we think they are doing wrong when often the issue is nothing they are doing. Sometimes it is either an illness or other circumstances beyond their control that are causing their problems and there is no easy “cure.” Instead, they are left with day to day suffering.
It is easy for us to get busy with our “normal” lives and forget the pain that never leaves them. They no longer have a normal life. Their life has become abnormal, and even worse, excruciatingly painful. They cannot control the pain and once they are exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually, they have difficulty allowing the Lord to help them control their responses to it. Without encouragement, they may literally wither away. We feel guilty that we cannot fix whatever is wrong, but they are not seeking a fix. They are just seeking love, support and compassion. Unless we have been in exactly the same situation with exactly the same background, we really cannot possibly know how they feel. And if we asked them, we would discover that they don’t really expect us to understand but the lack of a solution or understanding does not remove their need for loving affirmation and caring actions. They simply need to know two things: 1) We care and 2) They are not alone.
When their needs are acknowledged and validated and they realize that they are not alone on this agonizing journey of suffering, they can be renewed spiritually and emotionally. Doctors have found that even terminal patients live longer and happier lives with love and support, even if their diagnosis and pain level remain unchanged.
Do you hear the cries of the hurting? Or have you grown weary of the sound of pain and allowed your heart to be numbed by the constant drumming of the needs of those you love? Run to Your Heavenly Father and ask Him to restore your soul with His mercy, renew your spirit with His grace, and use you to comfort those who cannot escape their pain.
You cannot change the circumstances of the pain but you can help change their perspective if you love and support them. You may be the lifeline God wants to extend to them today.
Are you equipped and ready to be thrown out as a life preserver from God’s Luxury Liner of Grace? His ship is strong enough to ride out any storm and full of daily blessings that He longs to give to everyone but sometimes they just need a helping hand to get on board.
Prayer for the hurting person:
Please give this sufferer the courage to let their needs be known to those You have prepared to help them. Show them that You genuinely care about all that they are going through and that You long to shower Your grace and mercy upon them. May they supernaturally sense Your presence in the midst of their pain and suffering. Let them be wrapped in the comfort of Your love. May Your mercy be a healing balm to their soul.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Prayer for the helper:
Please make Galatians 6:9 a reality in my life and let me “not grow weary in doing good.” Jesus, I confess that I am sometimes tired and busy and I don’t want to be compassionate. I confess that it is uncomfortable for me to be around people who are hurting when I cannot do anything to stop their pain. Lord, please help me to trust You and leave the results and the solutions up to You. Help me to just be willing to obey You and help me to have a sweet and willing and unselfish spirit. Show me how much You have blessed me and give me a grateful spirit and a willingness to share Your blessings with others.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.