“When you’re down on your luck, even your family avoids you – yes, even your best friends wish you’d get lost. If they see you coming, they look the other way – out of sight, out of mind.” ~ Proverbs 19:7 (MSG)

We’ve all heard the old familiar saying “to avoid someone like the plague.” None of us has ever had personal experience with the devastation of the plague but we all have our own ideas of what this saying means. Another example of avoidance is the horrible picture we have in our minds of the effects of leprosy on the human body and how, through the years, contact with those who suffered with this disease were to be avoided at all costs. The reality is that this condition is very misunderstood and most of the fear is without merit.

A third example is the caste of people in India who were labeled “Untouchables” and it was considered unsuitable to have a personal relationship with them. Their title in Sanskrit is Dalit and it translates as broken people, crushed or broken pieces. While the caste system has been officially abolished under the Indian constitution, there is still discrimination and prejudice against these people.

In much the same way, in our society today is the treatment toward and lack of acceptance of those who suffer with mental and emotional struggles. They are all too often shunned, judged, labeled, and avoided. Even as believers we are guilty of a lack of sensitivity towards those who’s suffering and pain go on for any extended period of time. We tend to be fearful of anything we don’t understand, we can’t explain away or we can’t fix or solve. Self-protection and self-preservation become paramount when we are exposed to anything that makes us uncomfortable, uneasy or takes us out of our comfort zone. Our reaction is often one of removing ourselves from being exposed to the pain of another by avoiding them and thereby eliminating the discomfort their sadness, woundedness and heaviness causes us.

The truth of the matter is that we do not have the option to be selective about whom we will help based on our comfort zone. In his book, Where Is God When It Hurts?, Philip Yancey writes, “It would be much easier for us to avoid people in need. Yet ministering to the needy is not an option for the Christian, but a command. We – you, I – are part of God’s response to massive suffering in the world. As Christ’s body on earth, we are compelled to move, as He did, toward those who hurt. That has been God’s consistent movement in all history.”

Charles Stanley reinforces this challenge in writing, “One of the reasons that God came in the form of human flesh, in the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, was to show us that He is concerned about human need. Jesus Christ identified with human need. He confronted, dealt with, and fought against human needs of all types. Jesus did not sit a far off, passing judgment on those in need or ignoring the needs of the people. To the contrary, He rolled up his sleeves and marched straight forward into the greatest needs known to man.”

We need to ask ourselves, who have we been avoiding and why?

“Love in its purest form, is an action.  When we give to others what is most valuable to ourselves, we prove our love.” — David Jeremiah

Reflections on AVOIDANCE  

There is an old hymn called Rescue the Perishing that exhorts Christians to take action when people around us are in peril.

Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying.
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.
Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen.
Tell them of Jesus the Mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying.
Jesus is merciful.  Jesus will save.

Although that hymn can apply to those who do not have a relationship with Christ, it can also apply to anyone who is dying in spirit.  Some people are drowning in loneliness, suffering, sorrow or depression.  All throughout Scripture, God used individuals to encourage others who were struggling and in trouble.  The apostle Paul was a man known for the depth of his faith. However, God often sent other Christians to come alongside even Paul to encourage him in his trials.  Although God Himself is truly sufficient for our every need, He often chooses to use other believers in relationship with us to encourage us during hard times.  Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12) If you felt alone and adrift, wouldn’t you want a helping hand? If you were drowning emotionally or spiritually, wouldn’t you be calling out to God to send someone to help deliver you? Are you watching for opportunities to “Lift up the fallen” or are you so busy or so self-absorbed that you ignore God’s voice prompting you to help others in need? We need to always remember that the next time we could be the one who needs encouragement, and be sure to respond to God’s leadership daily.

Prayer for the hurting person:


Help this person who feels like a pariah that others are avoiding.  Help him to feel loved and wanted by You and by those who love you and have committed their lives to you.  Protect this person as they try to reach out to others in friendship.  Please help others to take the initiative to reach into this person’s life.  Help the one who is hurting to realize that we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ and that they are not alone…they are part of the family of God.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer for the helper:


Help me remember what it feels like to feel left out and like I do not matter to others.  Help me remember that loneliness can happen even in the middle of a crowd and that I need to be sensitive to those who are aching for a hug, a kind word, for someone to stop and really see them…to look in their eyes and show that I care what they are going through.  Help me to be Your hug today to a lonely person who feels avoided and alone.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.