I haven’t come across anyone who’d prefer their friends to keep troubling matters to themselves. We often want a person to feel comfortable in confiding with us; opening up their hearts to let us know their deepest hurts. And many times it may be something that we ourselves are going through or went through. But what if it’s not? What if your friend comes to you and says they lived in an abusive home, drink to sleep because of the grief caused from the past; what do we say then? Sometimes, there’s nothing we can say. If a friend is telling us of a loved one who has passed away, sometimes it’s just best to listen. But many other times, that friend is looking for answers, and we ourselves better be open to what God wants us to say to that person.
What I’ve noticed is that often times we tend to try to give solutions to the symptoms without listening to God for a solution to the core problem. So let’s say you have a friend who says they want this and they are not going to be happy if the particular want doesn’t come to pass. What do we say then? Do we offer books or guides on how to be content with not getting that particular want? I think that’s giving a “solution” to a symptom of a greater problem. If we listen to that person carefully, they’ll reveal things to us about their relationship with someone else, often someone from the past, like a mother, father, and other relatives or maybe even a close friend. Either way you can be sure that this great desire to fill up a void was intensified due to some broken relationship. So we don’t offer the person solutions to the symptoms. Let me give a real life scenario. Say a friend says he wants to find a girl and get married. He says he will not be happy if he doesn’t have a wife to call his own, he has been praying to God but “no answer”. Let’s not be quick to offer “be content while single” guide books. Let’s not only say: “Trust in God, He loves you, He’s there for you”. While that is the truth, it’s hardly helpful if the person thinks that they are doing just that. Keep listening, that friend will surely reveal the underlying reason for this “I will not be happy without it” want. Almost always it is because of a want to feel loved, accepted. And that desire to be loved is now stressed as a result of something painful from their past or possibly, present life. Let me say that we all want to feel loved, but when we start thinking that “we must have and will not be happy without” we’re setting ourselves up for hurt and disappointment. So when our friends start talking like this, know that what they think they want is hardly the issue. We know it’s God they really need, but there is something that’s preventing that relationship from happening or blooming. So find out if this friend has any grudges towards anyone who might have hurt them. Let the person know that we must forgive and let go; that true forgiveness comes without condition. It doesn’t give the offender licence to continue hurting us, but it frees us and allows us also to be forgiven by God (Matthew 6:14-15). Depending on what was said, we’ll also want to let the person know that God is NOT a vending machine; that we can’t expect Him to do things on our terms and in our time. Remind the friend that we don’t get Jesus to have as a personal genie, we get Jesus because we are in need of a saviour, because we need His righteousness to wash us clean from sin (all rebellious actions against God; fornication (sex before marriage), homosexuality, lying, stealing, cheating, adultery, prostitution, murder, covetousness, drunkenness, slander, blasphemy (like using God’s name as a curse when trying to express disgust) and the list goes on). Also, that we need to seek Him, and the other godly desires of our hearts will be given us. Of course, in everything we do we petition to God in prayer. We can offer to pray for the person, and ask God to reveal things to that person, but I think we should also offer ourselves to be even more used by God on behalf of that individual. Here’s why. As a believer, if I’m going through a particular struggle often times I’m too consumed in the problem to actually realise that God has already answered me. I often need another brother or sister in Christ to bring me revelation from God. It will then occur to me that this was actually shown to me already.
So let’s be a lot more there for each other. There are times when we talk to God, He answers us and we know He answered. But when someone’s too consumed with the present problem, they often miss out on the answer from God. So at times we really need to get as involved as the Spirit will allow us to. Let us also get to the problem and not give solutions to symptoms of. The symptoms help to confirm our Spirit given suspicious of the real problem. May we pray that God gives us the wisdom and discernment to speak words that the Holy Spirit will use to get to the person’s heart.
We want to be used by the Spirit to get to the problem of heart; we want to be used by the Spirit to speak the Word to the heart. We need to get there, we need to be there.