“You’ll never understand unless you go through it.” I understand the heart where this phrase comes from but I wish it did not exist.
Lately, it seems like I run into people who are going through an extreme life-altering circumstances, whether it is the loss of a loved one, a divorce, or even something like overwhelming debt. Their popular phrase while trying to filter through their grief and difficulty is “You’ll never understand unless you go through it.” I do not disagree, but then again I do.
One of the common threads in all of life’s difficulty is loss and sorrow.
The reason why I hate the response, “You’ll never understand,” is because the hurting person who usually says this fails to fully acknowledge the person trying to help and comfort them. They discount that person and their personal losses and pain. The pain they have experienced in their lifetime…. and survived. They require exact suffering before they allow someone to help them. God created individuals who have individual experiences, therefore no two people will ever have the same experience in their lives, everything about us and is different.
The Roadblock to Your Own Comfort
Many of us have been trained to deal with people in tough circumstances wisely. I have been taught you are never supposed to say to a hurting person, “I know exactly how you feel,” because there is no way that we can know how any one person would feel because we are not them and we have not lived their life. This is true! But when it comes to the “counselors” needing the counseling and comfort they forget the other side of the coin and create roadblocks of rejection to their own comfort.
Requiring others, when you are hurting, to have exact suffering hinders the power of comfort through the Holy Spirit’s leading.
The Bible instructs us in I Corinthians 12:26, to rejoice with those who rejoice and to suffer with those who sorrow. The church body should be able to feel when one of their members is hurting and help them without feeling shamed for their lack of experience in that specific area.
I just fear that we sometimes demand that the comforters be exactly like us before we allow them to have any credibility. The truth is, no one will ever be like us and no one will ever know our heart’s sorrows like Jesus (Isaiah 53:3,4).
What I wish I could say…
Often I have reached out to offer love and support and found closed hearts and rejection. It has made me want to cry because I hurt with them whether they realize it or not. In the quietness of my heart I want to say, “I know hurt and loss too, and I’m sorry that you’re hurting. I know life is not easy and God does not always explain the reasons why He does things, even to His servants. In the darkest hours, when you feel rejected and despised, God still loves you. Please do not be so harsh when people try to be kind. I do not always know what to say or say it correctly but God has put in me a heart of compassion to extend a merciful hand of comfort. Please accept my words of consolation as genuine extensions of acknowledgement that you are hurting. I am hurting because you are.”
I want to go on to tell them, “All sorrow is painful no matter what form it comes in. I know the sorrow of not having a father in my life. I know the loss of divorce and the struggle of being in a single-parent home. I know the loss of friendships and material things when we lost our home in a fire. I cannot change my losses or suffering because God did not plan my life to be exactly like yours. I do not know precisely what you are going through but I can relate.
Please do not reduce my past hurt and the experiences God has led me through and exalt your own. God has taught me so much and perhaps a few of the gems He gave me along the way were supposed to be shared with you. Sadly, you won’t allow me to share them with you because I’ve never experienced what you’ve gone through before.”
“When you are hurting not everyone will say the right things. You may be hurt because others are ignorant or selfish. Look for those that are reaching out to you in a special way. Give them a chance to possibly be the channel in which God comforts you. Please accept my love and concern as a touch from God.”
The last thing I would say is this,
“Reach out to God and boldly approach the throne of grace to help you through this trial you are going through. Then, look for those who are reaching out and accept their love. I want to be an extension of God’s love and comfort to you, if you’ll let me. Trust me, it will do a soul and body good! Lord willing, down the road, your trial will be able to help someone else in your life and ministry. “
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
I know that I am not always understood when I try to comfort those with different circumstances than mine, and although I hate that phrase that I can still bring them and their needs boldly before the throne of grace in prayer. I will not be offended when people create these roadblocks to their own comfort but will do my best to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in what He wants me to do toward them.
Lord, please guide me and help me know how to help people who are hurting and allow this article to help them understand the other side of the coin.