Encouraging people who are hurting or struggling to share their experiences with others in the church is usually good advice. When a person shares, he is often surprised to learn that others have dealt with, or are dealing with, similar circumstances. Rich comfort and encouragement frequently come from such conversations.
However, some who hear this advice will push back. Why?
- Their role models went through difficult situations without mentioning hurts, challenges, and disappointments.
- They assume that verses such as “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Phil. 2:14) prohibit honesty about pain and suffering.
- They have the impression that God gets more glory when we don’t let others know we are in pain.
- Some fear what others will think about them if they are honest about their struggles.
Dr. Stephen Viars, pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Lafayette, IN, models a great way to respond to someone who feels this way.
On the other hand, some people don’t have any problem sharing with others what they’re going through: they’ll tell anyone how they’re doing. While it’s important to be honest, it’s also important to be discerning. A hurting person does not need to tell everyone every detail. Dr. Ramon Presson explains why:
What have you shared with the people under your care to encourage them to open up?