“News about [Jesus] spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” (Matthew 4:24).
In a COVID world, mental distress has skyrocketed by 700% and calls to the National Suicide Hotline have increased by 600%. Every 1.6 seconds, someone attempts suicide.
People are hurting. Some hurt people act out and hurt other people. Other hurt people hold it in as best they can, and you may not easily notice the hurt although it is very real, and very deep. But here are some signs.
What does the hurt look like?
Pain, distress and trauma can often act out to hurt others, or oneself. Lack of self-care, and isolating oneself not just relationally but from normal hygiene and health is a sign of distress.
Mandatory or voluntary lockdowns during COVID seriously contribute to distress and hopelessness more as a cause than an effect.
A person troubled and traumatized by circumstances naturally switches to flight-or-fight mode. Hormones ramp up. Some bodily functions close down.
Aggression or withdrawal can be a symptom of pain. Additions seem to help mask the pain but make matters worse.
The fight-or-flight instincts are wonderful! Thoughts and feelings all physiologically align by God’s good design to provide a burst of energy for survival under attack. But that state is definitely not meant to continue day after day.
Anxious thoughts. Depression. Hopelessness. Feelings of being overwhelmed. Irritability and anger. These are all symptoms of inner imbalance.
How can you help?
There is good news. Even before you notice symptoms of a hurting person, Jesus is on the scene. And even before you develop a response, Jesus has already responded.
Just like he healed people “with severe pain” while he was on earth, he does the same today. Jesus is alive and active, though invisible to our earthly eyes. And the Bible says that Jesus has already healed every person hurting from sin.
“By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
The wholeness of healing that Jesus gives is a gift of his mercy and grace. Nobody can earn it, but nobody needs to earn it. It is free! Acknowledge that hurting people are truly hurting. Then assure them that their real hurt and pain is healed by the mercy and might of Jesus. He promises so.
Jesus Christ can bear what fragile human beings cannot. On the cross, he already did. In his ever present healing, he always does.
So, here are 3 things you can say or do in response to a person who is hurting:
- Give your ACKNOWLEDGEMENT to the person’s hurt as real. Listen. Validate their painful experience even if you wouldn’t feel pain in the same way. Say, “I’m so sorry.”
- Give your ASSURANCE that Jesus Christ is just as real, and more powerful than any pain. His grace heals. His sacrifice on the cross bears all our unbearable burdens. His ever-present love handles what we cannot. “Jesus loves you.”
- Give your ATTENTION. Don’t leave. Don’t do nothing or say nothing. When you’re in it, stay with it. Stay with them. Just be there for the person. Say, “Tell me more about …” and as they share, invite them to grab some coffee the next day and talk some more. Send a text that evening. Little, simple things make a big difference. Be willing to care like this even if you’re not sure how it will turn out. You don’t have to heal the person, just help them.
Those who are hurting (perhaps this is you) have a true and real Healer in Jesus, who loves them, cares for them, and saves them better than you ever can. You aren’t their Savior, but you can be a friend who shows them the way.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, the pain in our world is too real, and sometimes too personal. We need your care and healing. Jesus, please take the hurt inside of me into your loving hands. And guide me also to help others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Stay tuned to the Grace Talks video devotion series here.