What Not to Say to Someone in Crisis

What Not to Say to Someone in Crisis

4 common responses that do more harm than good
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I know you'll be fine.

I'll be honest: these words angered me the most. I wanted to scream at people, "Really? God already told you?" The fact is, we don't know that someone in crisis will be fine. We don't know God's purpose for this event in his or her life. We do know that God is capable of more than we can imagine—and that includes great healing. But Scripture is clear: Not everyone is healed. Not every situation is solved. Not everyone will be fine. When we say, "I know you'll be fine," we may offer false hope or make people feel like we're brushing off the seriousness of the situation.

We obviously want the person to be fine. We want their hurting to end and their ailments to be healed. But rather than say we know what will happen, it's better to walk with them in the uncertainty. One of the best responses I heard during my ordeal was: "Well, that sucks." It may seem overly simple, but this response acknowledged the pain of my situation without jumping to conclusions about what might happen in the future. Many times when someone is in crisis, we want to encourage them, but I've found it's better to simply acknowledge that the situation is bad and then sit with the person. Sometimes just being available for someone is the best encouragement.

I'm praying for your healing.

It's true that God can heal, and it's important that we pray for healing. But as we pray for healing, we must also recognize the person's needs in the meantime—and the fact that healing may never come. I've found that we often only pray for the person's healing rather than also praying for their peace, strength, courage, and hope in the midst of the situation.

Don't stop praying for healing, but also pray for their other needs, especially those that may be top of mind. What do they need emotionally? What resources are needed? Pray that they will experience God's presences in the midst of the crisis, that they'll have strength to endure, and that they would experience peace.

Thankfully, my second CT scan revealed the mass on my liver was a harmless hemangioma. Though I wouldn't choose to go through that situation again, I did learn a lot about the power of words when someone is in crisis. In an effort to bring encouragement, comfort, and reassurance, we often do a lot of damage. If we're not careful, our best intentions can actually hurt the very person we're trying to help.

—Peri Gilbert is Small Group Coordinator at The Simple Church.

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