What to do when a friend is hurting…

166671115 (1)I received a Facebook message last week from a mom who has a friend going through a tough time.  Her friend’s husband had an affair, had separated from her, and now she weathering a crisis she didn’t see coming.

She wrote me because she knew I’d been in a “this-isn’t-the-life-I-signed-up-for” season recently and she wondered what she could do for her friend that would make a difference. I shared with her some of the things that people did that really made a difference for me in my dark season.

If you know of someone going through a tough time–whether it’s due to death, illness, separation, divorce, or any other kind of crisis–here are some acts of kindness that can really make a difference:

1) A scripture text or a “I’m thinking of you” text nearly every day. It can say something like, “I’m thinking about you” or “I care” plus a scripture about how God cares for the brokenhearted or how He sees her.  (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 119:28;  Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1; I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6 are good verses.)

2) A meal with a note that says “I care.” One person dropped a meal by my house with this simple note: “I know this single mom life is not what you signed up for. I promise to pray for you as God prompts.”

3) A call when you’re at the grocery store.“I’m at the store. Is there anything you need me to pick up for you?” This kept me out of public settings so I didn’t have to talk to people. If I talked I usually cried so one sensitive friend tried to give me the space I needed by keeping me out of those awkward public settings like grocery stores.

4) A sweet note with a gift card for pizza. You’ve got kids to feed but just don’t feel like cooking.

5) A listening ear that keeps pointing her to Christ. The most important thing I had were friends that kept telling me, “I’m praying for restoration in your marriage. I’m praying for soft hearts. But more than anything I’m praying for you to draw closer to God in this season than ever before.”  This allowed me to get to the point where I was able to say, “It is not well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul.”

6) A reminder to take one day at a time..sometimes one minute at a time. Remind her to not look days, weeks, months down the road or she’ll drive herself crazy with the “what if’s.”

7) Some encouragement to seek Christian counseling. She needs someone to help her sort out her heart that is broken in a million pieces. Right after my crisis, I had one friend that actually went to a counseling appt with me….she took notes of all the things the counselor said because I couldn’t stop crying.

8) A gift of one of these books: When the Hurt Runs Deep by Kay Arthur or Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Both of these books were absolute life savers for me.

9) The gift of your presence. Within an hour of my crisis, 3 friends were at my house and stayed well past midnight. One friend stayed 2 days until my father and sister arrived. Had she not been there and put food and water in front of me, I doubt I would have eaten or drank anything those first few days.

10) Prayer. Pray with and for your friend as God prompts.  In my brokenness and grief, I sometimes didn’t even know how to pray.  Friends who could think straighter than I could carried me with their prayers.

What about you? Have you ever walked through a crisis? What acts of kindness would you add to this list?


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9 thoughts on “What to do when a friend is hurting…

  1. Yes, Jill… I think you’ve got it. check in with them often… in person, through the phone, text and email… Remind them to eat and hydrate when they can… exercise or walk… because taking care of themselves during this season is soooo important. pray with them and for them… send your actual prayers and other encouraging words for them through text or email so they can read them often and whenever they need them . Scriptures via text AND often were appreciated. Just keep shining more Light on them and keep pointing them in the right direction: UPward. The evenings were the roughest; getting enough sleep especially early on was a huge challenge. A friend who understands, continues to pray and LISTENS. Sometimes that’s what a hurting friend needs most: a Faith-Full Friend who listens and cares.

  2. Jill, I think this is a great list and really helpful. I’m a music person (like you), so I have a compilation of songs that have been meaningful to me that I like to put on CD for other friends going through difficult times — songs that recognize the pain but turn my mind to praise God. Some are I Will Praise You in This Storm (Casting Crowns), Who Am I? (Casting Crowns), Blessings (Laura Story), Held (Natalie Grant), Blessed Be Your Name, You Are God Alone, and I Will Rise (Chris Tomlin).

    • Oh, yeah, Sandi!! how did I forget? music was soooo helpful. Stay away from country music though… far away. 🙂 Christian music, elevator music, jazz… Great reminder!

    • Tunnel by Third Day… and Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North… these were both good ones that I’d to add to your list.

  3. That’s a great list Jill. I’m so thankful you had the support you did. As you know I went through a very similar situation three years ago that unfortunately did finally end in divorce early this year. Not to switch to the negative, but I would add that there are a list of things “not” to do. I know I was extremely hurt by some suggestions given by well-meaning friends.

    • Roberta, that is very true. There could probably be a comparable list of things not to do, as well.

  4. What a great post! And just like God in His sovereignty to post this in His perfect timing! I have a cousin whose first daughter was to be married this Sat. After 8 years of dating, a year and a half engagement, her fiancé called it off in March absolutely devastating the entire family. I just finally called to talk to my cousin and she said it has been like a death in the family. I am not really sure spiritually where they all are right now, but thank you for the info on the two books! I am putting a package together for the daughter and those are perfect! Also, those songs are also something I thought would help. God uses the tough stuff to teach us and then we can help others. I just read this quote last week from Robin Roberts’ (Good Morning America)
    Mom….LET your MESS be your MESSAGE and I was really struck by how that can be applied to all but ESP. to Chritians to be transparent about their mess so God can minister. Great advice Jill! Thanks for your transparency because it will help so many!!! Rejoycing in the healing taking place in your life!!

  5. Jill,
    Thank you for sharing this list. I have a friend (who I consider a present-day Job with all her trials) who is unfortunately walking through a similar situation and this list is such a good reminder of how I can minister to her. My heart is breaking for her. My husband recently received some difficult news on the job front and my friend actually sent us a note with a gift card to go to a movie. She is reaching out to others even in the midst of her own pain! I might do a similar post sometime in the future about what has been helpful for us during a season of unemployment. Thank you for your willingness to share these simple acts of kindness.

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