What To Do When Your Friend Is Hurting


I arrived at Bible Study after a phone call with my mom. I was living 14 hours away from my family and often had tough phone calls about things that were going on at home. I am the first-born daughter, which means I have to take care of everyone else, right? This time the news was not good. My dad had been diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. Very treatable and caught early though, we hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal. As I got off the phone, I was convinced of that.

I had left for Bible Study feeling at peace. But as it came time for prayer requests, I had to say out loud what was going on with my dad, and I broke down. I was in a safe place with women who loved me and had stood in the gap multiple times for me. That’s when the hurting came.

I’ve been in church all my life and I’ve been in the mental health field for 15 years now.  Through my experiences and training, I have lived out some ideas for how to support one another in the midst of hurt.

1. Pray

In the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah finds out that the walls of Jerusalem have been torn down by enemies. He knows in that moment that his friends are hurting. They had waited for generations to return to Jerusalem and now they have returned to a land that was not safe for them. Nehemiah began to pray. Through his prayers, God revealed to him that he needed to go to Jerusalem with the king’s blessing to support the people by rebuilding the wall. His prayers to God emboldened him to serve the needs of the people. (Nehemiah 1-2)

We cannot discount the power of prayer. Not in the life of others or ourselves. We may not know what to do or what to say, but the Holy Spirit can intercede for us on our behalf. I have to admit that prayer is not always my first reaction when a friend is hurting. I am an action-oriented person and I want to spring into action. However, when I am able to stop myself and pray first, God often times reveals a better plan of action than the one that I would have taken without first stopping to pray.

2. Be There

David is introduced in scripture as someone who was there for Saul. Saul was struggling with an evil spirit. David had been anointed with the Spirit by Samuel and was asked to come play his harp for Saul to drive away the evil spirit. David was already skilled at the harp and this simple act was the support that Saul needed in that moment. (1 Samuel 16)

If you have been on the receiving end of help during a time of crisis, you know the importance of showing up. To have a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to talk to about sports, the weather, or routine life to get your mind off the hurting. It may involve bringing a meal or bringing chocolate, or even just getting them out of the house. As friends, we need to be there in whatever capacity our friend needs. This has very little to do with our words and much more with our presence.

3. Recognize When Help Is Needed

From the very beginning, God designed people to need one another. Eve was created after Adam because God knew that Adam needed another person to do life with. And we find out that they did need one another after sin entered into the Garden. Scripture tells us that if another believer is struggling, that we should bear each other’s burdens with a spirit of gentleness. This actually fulfills what Christ asks us to do for one another. (Genesis 2-3, Galatians 6)

It can be hard time to recognize the needs we have in our own lives. We may have mood difficulties, change in weight, trouble eating or sleeping, or multiple other life processes that are affected by depression or anxiety or other mental health difficulties. But at the time, it is hard to recognize that in ourselves. A family member or a friend is likely the best person to spot these things and point them out in love and gentleness. Sometimes loving a friend involves encouraging them to go see a counselor, to seek out a minister, to find a support group, or to make changes in their lives.

When your friend is hurting, their needs are always going to look different. But these three things are essential for supporting one another in those times of need.

How have you received support from friends during a time of hurting?


Meet the Author!

Carisa Wilsie is a licensed psychologist and orphan care advocate. She lives life with many bright and compassionate people that hold her up. She is a wife and mother to three who were born out of her heart through adoption. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower and strives everyday to live out her unique calling. Thoughts shared here are based out of personal opinion and experience.