A few weeks ago, Regi, Kevin and I had the opportunity to attend Catalyst conference in Atlanta. Over the course of a few days, we heard from a number of insightful speakers around the theme “Awaken the Wonder.” One of my favorites was Margaret Feinberg, an author, speaker and Bible teacher who I’m pretty sure Regi has quoted on the blog before. Margaret is a cancer survivor and her newest book, Fight Back with Joy chronicles that battle and her decision to make joy her primary weapon during it.
From what I can gather, the book’s aim is to encourage and equip you to fight back with joy during times of struggle. While undoubtedly a valuable toolset to have, not all of us are currently experiencing a time of suffering. However, I would bet most of us know someone who is, probably even a close friend or family member.
With this in mind, Margaret’s first session at Catalyst was focused on 5 principles we can use to effectively help those who are suffering to fight back with joy. These principles apply to any type of suffering . . . physical health, mental health, financial hardships, parenting issues, job issues, you name it.
- Give the gift of your ongoing presence- Be present with those who are suffering. It’s always easier to stay away but true compassion is suffering with someone. And remember it’s never too late to start.
- Be slow to speak- Don’t feel you must fill every silence, or have all the answers. Let your presence speak for you. But when you do speak, speak life and joy, not harm. Don’t give clichéd responses or pat answers, instead say, “Today you are in my thoughts, my prayers and you are loved.”
- Be a quiet, consistent learner- You likely don’t know all the details about what they are experiencing. So do your homework, take the time to read about and understand the situation, but also don’t turn that person into a dictionary.
- Be practical, yet imaginative- During hard times, people have needs, but know their needs are changing and you won’t always know what they are. So ask what they need, but when you do so, offer 3 ideas of things you can do so as to be a blessing not a burden.
- Ask God how to pray- Unless you have experienced what they are experiencing, you probably can’t actually relate so instead of praying as if you’re in their shoes, ask God what to pray. Let Him guide your prayers.
As Margaret shared these 5 ideas, I couldn’t help but think of situations and instances where I did all the things she was saying not to do. I did it out of love but without really thinking. I’m sure many of you can relate.
So I share these in hopes we can be the people who don’t just come in strong at first and disappear but the ones who show up and stay. The ones who run in when everybody else is running out.
Will you join me in fighting back with joy both with and for those friends and family who may be suffering?
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