Welcome to my Never Quit Climbing blog

A practical, inspirational blog designed to encourage and give hope to people who are climbing mountains of rock and granite or ones life has put in their way.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Words: Three Things NOT To Say To A Hurting Person

Most people mean well when they encounter others climbing personal mountains and facing challenging times. We so badly want their pain to go away and for things to be better soon. Unfortunately, their mountains are often large, looming and unwilling to budge. The people we want to help the most may have a long climb ahead of them even with the best efforts to assist coming from us and others.

So we have to be careful that we don't just spout off some innocuous or unhelpful platitudes that in the end can add to their hurt and discouragement rather than be beneficial.

Let me suggest three of those statements that are common but that we must also avoid.

First don't say, "Things will get better soon."  They might improve, we can pray that they do, but there are no guarantees. The person or family may actually have a long journey before them. Don't try to somehow pretend that they don't.

Second, avoid speaking for God. There are certainly biblical and godly truths that can be appropriate down the road but be careful not to make suggestions that you know what God is thinking at the moment. For example, when people lose a loved one, some have said, "Well, God needed Jason in Heaven more than He needed him here."  Really? God never said that as far as I know.

And don't imply that God somehow caused their problems to teach them a lesson. We don't know that either.

Third, never suggest that you really understand their situation. No you don't. You may be able to identify with the person in some way and sharing that at some point can be appropriate. But we will never totally understand what they are going through. Their journey is unique.

What's the best thing we can do, especially quite soon after a tragedy or challenge has hit someone?  Listen. Listen to their story, their fears and their feelings. I was in Bastrop, Texas a few days ago just talking to and praying with people who had lost so much in major brush fires. One lady said it all . . . "It's just good to be able to talk about it."  Usually when it comes to our words to a hurting person less is more.


  1. Wow, a must read for all! Every word is true. Gets condescending when someone tries to solve my problems (I'm a good problem solver and I love kicking around suggestions from others, too). But, when someone is already preparing their next question rather than listen to my reply, it's very upsetting. Wise WISE words....

  2. Thanks for the encouraging comments. Glad it was helpful.