Although the Native Americans had no formal written alphabet before they met Europeans, their language was anything but primitive. The vocabulary of many native languages was as large as that of their French and English conquerors, and often their expressions were far more eloquent. In one tongue, for example, the concept of the word ‘friend’ is beautifully stated as ‘one who carries my sorrows on his or her back’. What a great definition!
When someone comes to you for solace, or even claiming to seek advice, very often they want nothing more than your presence, a listening ear, and a willingness to share in their sorrow. And when your answer sounds like a ‘quick fix’, they sometimes conclude that you have no time for them. One of the most beautiful things ever said about Jesus in the Bible is that He is able ‘to empathise with our weaknesses’. Sometimes what a person wants most from you is simply to know that you understand what they’re going through, and that you care.
So here’s how you can help:
(1) Listen with an open heart, instead of trying to talk away their problem.
(2) If they’re crying, share their tears. If they’re silent, share their silence.
(3) Let them know you’re available, ready to help, and that you will always have time for them.
(4) Remind them that human beings can only do so much, but God can do the impossible.
(5) If they will allow you to, pray for them and with them. That way, you help lift the burden off their shoulders and place it on God’s (see Psalm 55:22).