Listening to People in Pain

Today I recommend you to a post by Presbyterian minister Adam S. McHugh. Here are a few excerpted highlights.
Few things shut down a person in pain faster than quoting the
Bible at them. ... I don’t like saying this, but it has been my experience that Christians are often worse at dealing with people in pain than others with different beliefs. ... Dietrich Bonhoeffer lamented the same thing: “Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening.”
A hurting person is in a storm. They are cold, wet, shivering, and scared. Preaching, platitudes, and advice will not get them out of the storm. Don’t tell someone in a storm that it’s a sunny day. There will likely come a day when the clouds part, but it is not today. It’s not your job to pull them out of the storm. It’s your job to get wet with them.
There is no getting around the fact that a Christian community is one that suffers. The pioneer of our faith suffered, the main symbol of our tradition is one of agony and death, and there is no use trying to remove the cruciform marks from the hands and feet of the church. The mark of the gospel is not health and wealth, but nails and blood. The good news is that a Christian community is one that suffers together.
Listening to people in pain is about giving them room to grieve and weep and rage and doubt. We’re not there to spiritualize their pain or theologize their experience. ... We are on the wrong track when we diminish the emotions that people are feeling. ... The reason why we have a hard time hearing the doubts and faith questions of others is because it provokes our own unacknowledged doubts.
I found the post from this hospice chaplain to be one of the best on the topic. Read it in full here.

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