“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Helpless. That is what it feels like when you have to watch someone you love suffer. Naturally, you want to step in and make the pain go away, but oftentimes you cannot.
Just because you cannot help in the way you wish you could does not mean you are helpless. God sometimes does not allow you to stop the pain because He is at work in ways you cannot understand. Still, you can do much to help.
First, you can pray. In the face of so much pain, this seems a petty act, but it is an act most powerful! Prayer invites God’s intervention and His presence. Prayer can bring peace even while suffering continues. Prayer can even form words in God’s ear that you are struggling to articulate (Romans 8:26). Though you may not see what good your prayers are doing, know that God is paying attention.
Another way to help when your loved one who is hurting is to listen. Do not underestimate what a comfort this can be. Listening is a gift of your time; an act that says you care what they are thinking and feeling. Not always trying to give answers but a safe place for venting, listening is a shoulder to cry on and to share the load.
The suffering of a loved one is never easy. It is often a difficult course in becoming like Christ. We get to know Jesus more as Comforter and Friend instead of Healer. Suffering is written into the core life curriculum for all of us, and now may be your loved one’s turn. The sidelines may not be where you want to be, but prayer and listening can make you an invaluable comfort when someone you love is hurting.