If we call ourselves Christians, then we are to take to heart the Bible’s instructions to bear one another’s burdens. And, in this day and age, there are many things we are burdened with whether it’s finances, relationships, family, health or career. At the Desiring God blog, pastor John Piper gives great counsel about what to say to those who are depressed, angry, doubting or skeptical:
1. Don’t be offended.
First, resist the temptation to be offended. Don’t pout or take your ball and go home. That’s what you may feel like. They wanted to talk, and here they are throwing my suggestions back in my face with a dismissive attitude. Don’t leave. Not yet. “Love suffers long” (1 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV).
Second, listen to their responses. Part of your power is not only what you say, but how they feel about the way you listen. If your truth produces empathetic ears, it will feel more compelling. This listening will be a witness. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul describes the kind of engagement that may set people free from sin and error. One feature is “patiently enduring evil.”
3. End with hope.
Third, when you have spoken all the experiential counsel you can think of, and they seem to have demeaned it all, don’t let them have the last word of despair. You leave the last word of hope.