‘Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer.’ Romans 12:8 TLB
You say, ‘It’s not my responsibility. I’m not getting involved!’ Psychologists call this ‘compassionate disengagement’, the tendency to avoid helping someone in trouble. Whether your motivation is inconvenience, self-protection, or indifference, it’s wrong. ‘Being there’ is how you demonstrate your love for God and your neighbour. And helping requires recognising three kinds of crises:
(1) Accidental or situational crises. These involve things like sudden threats to our well-being, disruptive events, unexpected losses, the discovery of a serious illness, the death of a loved one, a family breakdown, the loss of livelihood or security. The patriarch Job experienced all these events together at the same time and wondered why God had allowed so many bad things to happen to him.
(2) Developmental crises. These occur in the course of everyday life: moving house, adjusting to marriage, parenting, retirement, ageing, declining health, and the loss of friends. Abraham and Sarah moved many times. They also endured years of childlessness and family stress, including the challenge of God’s request that they sacrifice the child of destiny—Isaac.
(3) Existential crises. These are when we face disturbing truths about ourselves. We may see ourselves as failures, grapple with being divorced or widowed, learn that our illness is incurable, experience rejection because of our race, class, age, or gender, or realise we may be getting too old to fulfill our life goals. True ‘helpers’ understand such crises, get involved, and encourage those in distress. They keep their eyes open, and are quick to ‘offer comfort to the sorrowing.’
SoulFood: 1 Ki 1–2, Mark 7:14–23, Ps 88:9b–18, Pro 11:27–29
The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2023