How to be a Friend to a Hurting Soul

One of life's faithful guarantees is that as time grows on, you grow older. With that growth, we inevitably grow in our families, our relationships and our friendships, and that’s when we discover the glorious fact of growing pains. It can be so hard to maintain healthy, fruitful friendships in adulthood.  Especially when it comes to navigating through the waves of trial and the seasons on pain. I know for a fact, I have been a less than perfect comforter and I’ve missed the mark on mourning with those who mourn. 

Why is it that, when a friend is walking through a really painful season in life, we feel the need to channel our inner Sherlock Holmes and find the reason why? Scumbling through our ration, we come to conclusions and try to diagnose the point of pain, then prescribe our own earthly remedies, called assumptions. We dive deep into the playback reels of life until we can pinpoint the moment that caused the pain and expect a pat on a back when we bring it to the table. Oh, this was my go-to style of consoling a hurting friend for so long. 

Science shows that the human brain is designed to “close loops” in our mind. In layman's terms, it is a natural human instinct to make sense of any open-ended experience or situation we face. This is why we despise movies that don’t give us solidarity in the end. We have to know the consultation just as much as we have to know beginning. But this “close the loop” method does not work when it comes to being a support to a friend facing pain and suffering. 

When we are facing a hurting soul who is confused and broken, we as Christ followers, are not called to figure it all out for them, that’s an impossible feat. We also are not called to default to a Bible verse to make it all better. As godly and loving as quoting scripture is, there is a time and a place. And when our loved ones are at a low point, reciting scripture can make us look self-righteous and superior instead of selflessly loving them where they are at. 

Sometimes the most loving and effective way to help a hurting soul is to simply be there.  Clear your scheduled mani/pedi appointment and show up with no agenda. Show up with tacos and pajamas, it doesn’t matter how you show up…. just be sure to show up. Make time to be there. Ask her how she’s feeling, ask her what she’s thinking and listen to her. REALLY LISTEN. If she is mad, LET her be mad, if she is confused let her sit in the unknown. Find the truth in her situation and then PRAY. Pray together, even if you’re the only one who has words, pray. If she can’t bear to talk to Jesus, you lead her, and you pray for her. This is how we love a hurting soul. It’s not our job to find the answers, but it is our duty to show her Jesus. 

Personal reflection

1.     When was the last time you were comforted by a friend? What did she/he do right? What did she/he do wrong?


2.     When you were facing a hard season, what do you wish your friends would have done for you that they didn’t? 


3.     Are there still things in your life you need to heal from? What friends can you invite to walk out the healing process with you? 

Goal setting and sharing 

1. Call a friend who is facing pain right now and ask how you can be there for her. 

2. Ask God if there are things He still needs to heal inside of you.

3. Ask a trusted friend to walk with you in any healing you may be going though.

Deanna Opheim

You are invited!