Commiserating doesn’t help!

“What’s this all about?”

It’s about entering into a person’s problems in such a way that all you do is agonize and “feel his pain.” Some think that this is the way to help. Take it for real—it isn’t. All you do—supposing your feelings are genuine—is indicate that you recognize that the situation is serious (something that the one with the problem knew already). But, you do more than that: in addition, you help galvanize his belief that it is also hopelessly unsolvable.

“How so?”

By commiserating, you have made it clear that you have no help to offer. You’d do so, unless you were insufferably mean, wouldn’t you? So, obviously, he concludes, the best that you can do is to suffer along with him. Otherwise, rather than sitting there weeping and wailing in harmony as the second member of a duet, you’d have said or done something that would have relieved his pain. Or—at very the least—something that would have put him on the track toward finding a solution.

But no. . . . commiserating only solidifies his conclusion that no one-not even God-can assist.

“How does it reflect on God that way?”

If you are a Christian counselor, the pitiful person with whom you are commiserating concludes, “If God had a solution to my problem, then this fine Christian would have told me about it.” He comes to you for God’s answers to his questions because you are a Christian and if God had an answer, surely you’d supply it. But commiserating is not an answer. It is but a non-answer, indeed, an enlargement of the problem. Granted, he shouldn’t equate what God can do with what you tell him to do, but people don’t always think logically. They identify you with your God. And, in one sense, they are right—you ought to be able to offer biblical solutions that God set forth to meet situations such as the one you and your counselee are facing.

So, don’t think that you have solved anything by joining the chorus of those who wail and gnash their teeth. You only enlarge problems by doing so. Learn, rather, what to do and say when faced by one who is in agony. That’s God’s way. He never commiserates!

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