What do you do when helping hurts?
I have been faced with that question recently. No matter what I did in the situation, my ‘help’ was just prolonging the hurt. When I considered withholding my help, guilt came, bringing with it a flood of ‘what ifs” to my brain. “What would Jesus do” kept me second guessing my role. I felt helpless going forward and hopeless looking back. There was no consolation, only misery.
Still, what do you do when helping hurts?
In my case, I had to decide to let go of the situation, understanding it probably would grow worse. Heartbreaking when it is a loved one. Not an easy task. I struggled to keep my resolve. Keeping your hands off while keeping your heart engaged isn’t an easy thing to do. I can certainly attest to that, but the thing I had to realize is that God deeply loved this person and had a plan for them.
It’s possible that I was in the way. My helping was keeping their eyes on me and not allowing God to take center stage. This may be where the verse “For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 HCSB comes in.
The verse itself has nothing to do with rescue the way we would like it to mean, but rather growing us up through trials. I guess you can look it as strength training. In the case of the situation I was interfering with, my strength was being proven. I was also taking on the other person’s portion of the trial and doing all the heavy lifting, effectively blocking him from growing stronger. In my crusade to help, it was actually doing them a disservice. In the end, they would not be able to stand up against adversity. They simply would not have the muscles to do so.
Romans 5:2 talks about the same thing saying, “we boast in the hope of the glory of God. But not only that, we also glory in our sufferings.” Why? Because they give us a future and a hope. Through our suffering, perseverance is produced. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. (Romans 5:4) With hope, we can stand in strength against whatever comes our way. Isn’t this what we want our struggling loved ones to possess?
So, what do we do when helping hurts?
- Step aside and let them grow strong.
- Be the one who allows the work to happen in their life.
- And pray, pray, pray. Everyone needs a cheerleader.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
Note: There has been no change that I can detect in the situation. God’s timing and a softened heart will need to align with each other. I am always reminded of do not “grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I will continue to pray and offer encouragement where appropriate and watch for God who sees all things and loves all of us deeply to work out the details.