Marianne felt lonely.
On the outside everything looked perfect. A great husband, two little
girls, vibrant and busy in an under-four kind of way, a master’s in
education and the good looks of Jennifer Aniston. She read her Bible, prayed and went to church. But inside she hurt horribly.
And she didn’t know who to tell.
The women at church had it altogether. Or so it seemed.
If we stop and look, we each will see hurting women in our churches.
They are “sheep” who have fallen down, a “very pathetic sight,”
writes Philip Keller in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. “Lying on its
back, its feet in the air, it flays away frantically struggling to stand up, without success. Sometimes it will bleat a little for help, but generally, it lies there lashing about in frightened frustration.”
Who are the fallen lady sheep in your church? She is the woman in a
difficult marriage, or who has a rebellious teen, or is burdened with
a painful past. She is the woman whose husband is out of work. She is
the one who’s depressed or anxious, grieving or stressed out. She is the lonely 30-something with the good looks of Jennifer Aniston who says “fine” when you ask, “How’s it going?”
God gave me a passion to offer hope to Christian women who hurt. This passion led to seminary to learn pastoral care to women. It led me to counsel women at my church using the Word. It is leading me to begin a Biblical counseling center in my community.
I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal to your heart the name of a hurting woman in your church. He’ll provide one. I’m certain of it.
C=Care. What does spiritual care look like? First, we need to notice the injured. You’ve already done this when you identified a name. Then stop. This is what the Good Samaritan did. Read the story in Luke 10:30-37. Next, meet immediate needs. It may mean watching her kids or a driving her to the doctor’s office or helping her figure out a budget. Most important, listen to her pain.
P=Prayer. To help a hurting woman, we need to pray to Jesus, the
Great Physician. Tell him the needs of the hurting woman you’ve
identified. (He already knows, of course.) He’ll help you figure out what to do next. Trust him to show you.
R=Repair. Identify a hurting woman’s real pain. Listen carefully. Is she committed to her husband? Is she filled with fear or anger? Does she have junk from her childhood? Divorce, abuse, a loved one’s death — any of these may still affect her today. Ask her gently but directly. Take care to notice sinful patterns in her life and address them lovingly.
When Marianne and I shared iced tea on her patio, I spoke little and listened a lot. She told me that she had gone through two major transitions: Her family was fairly new to our community, and she left a job she loved.
Once she recognized that these life changes contributed to her mild depression, she felt better. She was able to let go of the fear that she was defective in some way and move on.
A mutual friend encouraged her to join the young moms’ group at our church. She began to make meaningful friends. Within a few months, she joined the groups’ leadership team and contributed her talents of drama and teaching.
God had not abandoned her as she had feared. He brought someone into her life who noticed she was hurting and took the time to listen. He provided her a place at church to connect, to grow.
Who is a hurting woman at your church? How can you help her?
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. 2 Cor. 1:3
Please visit me at www.lucyannmoll.com and sign up for my free online newsletter, Cup of Joy. An author, speaker and biblical counselor, I have a passion to offer hope to Christian women who hurt.