How to reach people with "no home for their heart?"

(Brittany Bowman) #1

Ravi Zacharias’ speech brings up a poignant concern, “Do you know someone who feels there is no home for their heart?” (~40 mins) This is something heavy on my mind recently as I have sought to share what I’ve been learning here with my friends. How can we navigate around heavy topics like abuse and suicide that keep people from believing truth and unconditional love even exist?

My Question:Is the fact that our value is immersed in being Created in Gods image too Simplistic?
(SeanO) #2

@Brittany_Bowman1 Here are a few articles on reaching out to those who have suffered a tragedy or are depressed. Both emphasize listening, meeting physical needs, grieving with them and suggesting professional counseling if necessary. If the person is willing, I think that worship is also very healing - sometimes singing worship songs together with someone can help them enter into God’s presence if their heart is open to it. And then He can draw them to Himself and aid in the healing process.

Looking forward to other’s thoughts. Here is one quote from the first article that seemed good.

“The better plan is to resolve to be a good listener . Practice empathy, remembering the biblical exhortation to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). Draw your friend out with carefully worded questions. Try to get inside her feelings. Be there for her as she processes her emotions. Encourage her to seek professional counseling and to fight any tendency she may have to withdraw into herself and “clam up” about the terrible thing that has happened. Do what you can to make it easy for her to talk about her feelings and grieve openly.”

(Melvin Greene) #3

You’ve brought up a very heavy topic and yet a very important one, @Brittany_Bowman1. I’ve often had to help those who are grieving in working with the homeless. A lot of times the root cause of homelessness can be traced back to a lack of properly dealing with grief, because unfinished business comes back to haunt. What @SeanO posted is very good advice. The only thing I would add is to allow that person to express their grief in their own way. Everyone is different and everyone expresses their grief differently. It’s tempting to “correct” someone who is expressing their grief in anger and saying things that may offend you, especially if their anger is directed at God. Just let them get all that out. It can be very healing. I discovered that I don’t always have to come to God’s defense. God is big enough to take it. Eventually that person will be a bit more open to talk with them about the love of God for them.

(Roald Gerber) #4

@Brittany_Bowman1 a heavy topic indeed but with so much opportunity for God’s grace and love to shine through.
A personal story. My wife’s brother died 500m from her parents house in a car accident, while I was on a men’s camp and also it happened to also be on her birthday. 10 June will likely never be the same. It is much better now but the memories will always be there. This happened 5 years ago.

Tammy went into a major depression, requiring medication. As a lay counselor my first thoughts were to start a counseling process as soon as possible. Tam was desperate. for the best part of 3 years she would struggle. She would isolate herself. The meds made her antisocial. She would tell me to leave her repeatedly because she was broken.

It took time but the biggest help in her time of need was the support of myself and friends that came around us. Counselling and grief share helped as well but the biggest influence in her turning point was friendship and love. People just loved us, were there to comfort us. It was a slow process, but Tammy was able to completely go off her meds and walk a whole life again, 4 years ago.

Looking back we learned some things. God always has a plan (People got saved at her brothers funeral). Often hurting people don’t know how to ask for help or feel embarrassed to ask. Those of us who know someone in pain should step out immediately without asking if it is okay. (For example in the case of a death in a family. Take them meals, because cooking will not be on the chore for the day. Take the kids from the parents for play dates. Just rock up and tidy their house. Pick up the phone even if nothing is said. Rock up and just be there.) Those things were so helpful to us especially when we didn’t really know what to ask for.
Lastly, time is a factor. I know that God can breakthrough any circumstance in an instant, but often we need to be patient and mourn with those who mourn. Mourning may take some time. Love them, not for a moment but for the long run.

Also like @Melvin_Greene says, don’t take anything personally. Most time grief and hurt can express itself in unexpected ways.

Hope this was helpful?

(Melvin Greene) #5

Those are indeed wise words @Roald_Gerber; wisdom born of pain. I praise God for the grace and comfort that your wife and yourself received through those close to you. Thank you for sharing that.

I also experienced a time of grief and deep depression. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but I served in Afghanistan and I lost two people that I knew. One was a good friend in my unit and the other was a very kind and compassionate nurse who worked in the medical clinic where I was stationed. In both of these situations, I had did not deal with the grief, because I had to carry on the mission. It wasn’t until I came back to the states when it came to the surface and to complicate things I also had to deal with PTSD. It took me nearly three years for God to put me back together. But, the point I want to make is that because of that experience, God prepared me to work with hurting people. I’m a trained drug and alcohol counselor and I work with homeless vets.

I don’t know where God has you and your wife, @Roald_Gerber, but I bet he has prepared you to help others who have gone through similar situations.

God bless you and your wife!

(jesse porter, jr) #6

Brittany, your concern is one that I share. I have seen so many instances of Ravi’s deep compassion for the wounded among us. I have little experience in helping the wounded, but have had experience in living with them. Other than loving and praying for them, I still have no clue in helping them.

My dad was a minister. He told of an experience he had back in the 1950s. A woman who he met asked him to call on her estranged husband. He lived alone several miles from her. My dad visited him as soon as he was able. When he entered the man’s house, he found him lying on a couch with the muzzle of a shot gun in his mouth and a toe on the trigger. My dad was able to share the gospel with him and that very day God entered his heart. I knew him for many years as a very kind and loving Christian, and some of my most precious memories from my childhood are from time spent in his home with him and his wife.

There may be very little we can do with broken lives, but there is the most important thing that we can do: be a vessel for Christ to reach into the world to heal them. We can do nothing to help, even with professional training, but Christ can heal their every hurt. Our help can only hurt, so it is always necessary to resist the impulse try. Approach them with humble acceptance of our own brokenness, not significantly less than theirs, in utter weakness, allowing Christ (as always) to work.

We must always be aware that their pain is likely to cause a reaction in them to hate and destroy everyone with whom the come in contact with, and to resist an emotional reaction to their words and actions. I am finding much wisdom in this area in Ravi’s “Cries from the Heart.”

(Brittany Bowman) #7

Wow, it’s been so encouraging to hear others’ experiences, @jporterjr, @Roald_Gerber, and @melvin_greene. Thanks for opening up a bit here. The articles and stories have really brought clarity on how I can better love on the hurting, and hearing from folks who have “made it through” gives encouragement. I’ve been in a weird stage of life where God’s brought many people who are hurting over the last few years. When it seems like I’m not able to make an impact, I’ve been frustrated with God for allowing these experiences to occur in others’ lives in a way that seems to shield their eyes. However, recently Matthew 25:14-30 has come to mind. Perhaps not only talents apply in this passage, but also suffering? Along the lines of he who has been forgiven much will love much? I have to trust in a God who calls me to water and loves the hurting enough to eventually harvest, even if I don’t see that stage myself. I haven’t yet heard a testimony that began with, “I was in such a great place in life that I found God and got saved.”

Ravi Zacharias’ speech also goes into some of the controversies on universities about cultural issues. I thought back to the thread @CarsonWeitnauer started, “How do rating systems affect our experience of human value?” It’s innately pained me over the last week or so that I had never considered what it means to be human until reading the post. I think university students have become so engrossed in rating ourselves that we have lost touch on what being human even means. There’s such a flourishing debate on whether topics like grades or body image or sexuality should define our experience. Some say yes, some no. However, amidst these battles are mass casualties of millennials who don’t want to know what is the right measurement of humanity, but rather what being human means at all. These arguments are manifestations of the question of what does it even mean to define humanity.

I used to work with a motivational speaking group, and I remember some of the middle schoolers almost crying in the self-image workshop a few years ago. If you’ve worked with middle schoolers, you know it’s a blessing just to have them all on the same page of the workbook, so I’ve been puzzled why they tuned in so closely for that topic. In researching, I hear depression often results from comparison. I wonder if we’ve become so adept as Christians in combating bad labels/ratings that we’ve missed the heart of the topic. Maybe millennials’ desperate attempts at comparing themselves are symptoms they’re just trying to figure out their identity. When I’ve been incorporating the statement, “We were made in the image of God,” into office conversations, I’ve been met with awe and interest much more than I thought I would.

I welcome y’alls thoughts here. The practical advice you shared has already given me much hope. I recently learned a few friends have been struggling silently, and I was so discouraged. The conversations from the thread “What is the meaning life” were so powerful, I thought I would reach out here on how to deliver the Message more clearly. Each time we dig into scripture, we are given powerful weapons, and I need to remember that.

(SeanO) #8

@Brittany_Bowman1 Great thoughts! Your point about comparison really hits home and was a struggle I have seen in middle school kids as well. Just to clarify, the person you quoted was not me, so you may want to track them down and give them credit :slight_smile: My view might actually be a little bit more along the lines of not knowing the reason behind suffering and yet knowing the amazing love of Christ and nearness of His Spirit. Keep up the good posts!

(Brittany Bowman) #9

Sorry. That was sloppiness on my part. I enjoy learning but need to be more diligent.

(SeanO) #10

@Brittany_Bowman1 No need to apologize. Your posts are great and I really appreciate your sincere heart. I just didn’t want to take credit for what I didn’t say :slight_smile: Blessings!

(angelina Edmonston) #11

How can we navigate around heavy topics like abuse and suicide that keep people from believing truth and unconditional love even exist?

I have a question. Why do we need to navigate around these topics? Why not give them biblical answers to these questions? I actually came to Christ Jesus through a ministry who addressed issues like abuse/ trauma/ PTSD, and other topics needing answers. I was made aware that it was not YHWH/ G-D’s will for those things to happen to the people. G-D was not the author of evil. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we are made victims of other people sins.

I have found as someone mentioned people who have been in abuse and trauma typically, need to forgive, as they may have bitterness against G-D, others or themselves, accusation, rejection, addictions, fear, rebellion, selfishness etc… G-D has the answers to all of these issues in HIS word and HE LOVES these people. I know we need doctors. GOD made them to help mankind. Yet much psychology I see is not based on the bible, even in many of the christian practices and some support other religious treatments.

Bless you your heart to help others.

(Roald Gerber) #12

Hi @angelina_Edmonston. It is a good question. And I think you need to elaborate what you mean by “navigate around”. Do you mean that the topics are not discussed openly or do you mean that the topics require to much of a process to a recovery point?

Either way, I think the topics should be addressed more often. As for the process, which often can take some time, or it can be in an instant.
I have seen people instantly healed by Jesus (emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally). Yet sometimes it takes some times people need the truth to wash over them, bit by bit.

Like my wife. Mourning took some time. As she lived each day in God’s grace, His truth started settling in her heart and mind. It however took 3 years. So yes the answers are all in the Bible. I agree 100%, but often it is a process. Even our sanctification is a process. So as we discover more and more of God and we get to know Him better the more He refines us and removes our flaws. I am reminded of Paul who spoke of a thorn in his flesh, irrespective of what that was, that bugged him enough to write about it. As far as we know God never removed it from him, but Paul wrote that God’s grace is more than sufficient.

I think it boils down to the Sovereignty of God. Some people are healed instantly, some over a period of time and some never. Only God will know why. Yes God doesn’t cause evil but He allows certain things to come across our path so that we can grow and He works all things together for our good.
So in my experience I found that I allow God to do the work. I trust Him to do it in an instant, but sometimes I have to be patient with those I council and allow God’s grace to wash them daily, and for his truth to be written on their hearts, transforming them over time.
Often these Biblical truths have a practical out working. Meaning we need to practice certain principles over time to form new habits. Again, it can happen in an instant, but I believe that lies in God’s hands.

Over all I also think we need to remember that we aren’t just dealing with a problem but a unique person with his/her own history and character make up. I have realized that often we need to take people from where they are at and progress from there. The same way Jesus did with his disciples.

I agree though. We need to discuss these topics more openly along with many other topics.

Was this helpful? Can you clarify your question for me please?


(angelina Edmonston) #13



I was answering the original topic at the top of the page. :slight_smile:

(Sandy) #14

“How can we navigate around heavy topics like abuse and suicide that keep people from believing truth and unconditional love even exist?”

Melvin and Roald, thanks for sharing your personal stories! I think this is always powerful…in ways we can’t even see or know. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies! I’ve gained much insight from all responses on this discussion of handling such sensitive issues. Thanks to all!
The one point I think immensely important to add is this…Prayer! (Pardon me if it was mentioned and I missed it) Looking at Brittany’s question posed…there is that aspect of spiritual warfare that may also be at play in some cases that we must be prepared to deal with…through the Power of Believing Prayer. We must pray always for wisdom in every situation. (reminder to self) How great is our God? That even the wisdom to pray for others and their cases we can receive by praying. :slight_smile: The Grace of God!