What Not to Say to the Hurting


Guest post by Kelly Heuer

“But Kelly, Jesus is wonderful!”

Within a two-year period I had to start my life over as a single mother to five children with no child support. I went to jail twice on false charges—once in the US and once in the Dominican Republic. Multiple trips to the emergency room were made. My parents went to jail on false charges, as did my oldest son. My children were kidnapped and held in the Dominican Republic. Both of my remaining grandparents died. My younger brother began and ended his divorce. I had just found the love of my life and was forced to be separate from him. I lost my job. I got evicted from my house. And on goes the list of things that were going wrong.

I never once lost my belief in God. But I hated him. I was angry. How could He claim to love me and allow this to happen? I knew that He never promised that life would be easy. But this was ridiculous. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I had never heard such a hollow-sounding promise. I could do nothing against everything that was happening. One step forward, two steps backward. That was my life.

I distinctly remember the day that a well-meaning friend decided to tell me how wonderful Jesus is. She droned on and on in that horrible, cheerful Christian voice. You know, the one that can only burst forth from the lips of those whose worst suffering is running out of detergent on laundry day? Yeah, that was her. I wanted to punch her. I almost did.

Sadly, she wasn’t the only one who spewed that at me. More people than I can count endlessly chanted the Christian mantra of God’s glory and love and awesomeness. The more they rambled on, the more I hated God. “Really, Lord? This is the best you, the creator of all, can do? You only have brainwashed morons in your arsenal. I am so encouraged.”

And I ran. In my heart and in my mind, I ran.

It’s not that what they said isn’t true. The problem was the timing. Do you really think it’s going to help the woman whose mother is dying of cancer to hear, “Smile! Jesus loves you!”? It most certainly won’t. And depending on the person, it might get you hurt.

Do you know what the person stuck in life’s worst possible situations needs to hear instead? We need to hear the promise in Isaiah: “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish.” We need to know that it will come to an end. We need to hear that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not a train. We need to hear encouragement, and sometimes we need to hear God’s battle cry on our behalf.

Next time you’re tempted to tell the hurting it’s just the “Refiner’s Fire”, just God shaping and molding, please keep it to yourself. Share instead the fighting words “…those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all” and the promise that, as bad as it gets, we do not need to be afraid because our Lord will hold us up and help us.

Just please, I beg you, don’t do it tritely.

Kelly Heuer resides in Idaho and asserts that she is foremost a wife to her best friend and hero. Five children (plus a few extras) call her Mami, and she considers being a wife and mother to be her most important job and ministry. She is her church’s Music/AV Coordinator and serves as a song leader among other roles as needed. A missionary kid, Kelly lived in the Dominican Republic for 14 years learning to read and translate legal documents in both Spanish and English. She says one of the most important revelations of her time there was learning the value of writing in alleviating the pain of both internal and external struggles. She says while others might describe her as a survivor, she calls herself a fighter, a thriver, a winner. Kelly’s heart is to help women worldwide to go beyond survival and be freed to never again fear enslavement.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

6 thoughts on “What Not to Say to the Hurting

    • Even after being the recipient to the accidentally ignorant response, I find myself inclined to give it myself. Do you ever wonder why we do that?

    • I love the battle cry. More often than we realize, when we are struggling we need God with a sword more than God with a hug.

  1. Yea for women warriors! I agree with what you wrote. Wonderful article! I am so sorry for the pain you had to go through. I know we each have our journey. It is so nice to read stories from others when you know they understand the battle. God bless you my sister. Keep writing!

    • An oddball thought that’s been floating through my mind recently is that, even if we don’t see it, the suffering is often the blessing. Yes it hurts, but it is the specific suffering I went through and will go through that allows me to minister to others who are hurting. Especially those who are hurting without faith.

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