Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God – 2 Corinthian 1:3-5
In this life, we can go through different seasons. Whilst one individual is in the summer season, another individual could be going through the bleak mid-winter. Sometimes we know when an individual is suffering or in pain maybe because they told or it was announced by someone else, whilst a lot of the time we may not even know someone is suffering at all. So the question is, how can we better support our suffering neighbour?
Who is your neighbour?
First, who is our neighbour? Our neighbour is anyone who is not you, your family, your friends or those in close proximity to you. This article leans towards the theme of collective responsibility where as the body of Christ we carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). In the passage in Romans 12:15, Paul highlights the importance of us sharing in one another’s emotions and seasons rather than living an “isolated life”, which sadly is what this world promotes.
Why do suffering neighbours go unseen?
Now we may know who our neighbours are and that we should look out for other people, but what if we don’t know they are suffering? We live in a culture where when you ask, “how are you?” people often say, “I’m fine”, which may be genuine, but it can also just be a rehearsed response when we don’t want to open up. Unless people are visibly bleeding, we may not think they are in need of support. Some people to keep an eye on in our church and community in general include but are not limited to:
- The sick
- The poor
- Single parents
- People in other countries experiencing war, pandemic or poverty
These individuals may be highlighted to you through family, the church, or friends but for some of these individuals, it will take observation and discernment to identify them.
There are many things we can do to support our neighbours who are suffering, and with prayer and an obedient heart, God will reveal how you can best support them in a way that is unique to you and them.
- Pray for other people (in-person or in private)
- Volunteering schemes e.g., care homes, the homeless, safe families charity, Samaritans, youth clubs etc
- Check-in on people
- Offer your service: car lifts, cooking, mowing the garden
- Fundraise for someone in financially difficulty (with their permission)
- Donating money/resources
- Opening your house to refugees
This life on earth can be challenging and lonely at times. As the body of Christ let us be salt and light (Matt 5:13, Matt 5:16), let our presence be felt by all. We never know when we too will need support, so let us learn to comfort others with the comfort we receive ourselves from God.