In this day and age, everyone seems to be fighting some kind of battle. Sometimes, those battles are visible and literal; other times, they’re nearly invisible, and we don’t know about them unless someone tells us. And sometimes, we feel like we have to try to save the worlds of our friends and family like a type of anti-crisis superhero or heroine, and we feel pressure to say all the right things and avoid all the wrong ones. But we’re afraid that even that’s not enough.

It can be very easy to feel at a loss when it comes to finding ways to help others in times of crisis. We worry that we’ll say the wrong thing or do something that will offend them, but in reality, us being there for them will be the best possible thing, no matter what the situation or circumstance.

So, how exactly do we help a friend or family member in crisis?

Before I go into a list, I want to reiterate something to you. I can write lists all day long, but nothing can ever be better than just building your relationships with your friends and family and simply being there. There’s no perfect answer to how to solve another’s crisis – if there were, we wouldn’t even have crises – so please don’t be discouraged if you feel at a loss on how to help someone. Pray and ask God to lead you, and a way you can help will reveal itself.

So, without further ado, here are ways – starting points, if you will – that you can help someone in crisis.

Listen to them

If you have a feeling that someone needs help, allow them to make that known to you. If you ask them questions non-stop, they won’t want to speak. Just continue to be friends with them and encourage them, and make sure that they know you are a safe place for them to come to when they need to talk.

When they do speak, open your ears and be attentive. Put down your phone. And then support them with whatever encouragement feels right for the situation: advice from experience, kind words, and hugs, to name a few. But no matter what you do, your presence will more than likely help them the most. In fact, Jesus was there for Mary and Martha when Lazarus died in John 11:1-44. He talked with them individually (John 11:21-27, 34) and he wept with them (John 11:35). He was there for them, even when things were bleak, and because they leaned on Him for support, He was able to show God’s power by raising their brother from the dead (John 11:38-44).

Pray for them

After finding out that you know someone in crisis, pray for them, and remember to do so. Write a post-it note or write it down in your agenda so that you’re reminded to pray, if that helps you. Praise Him if things begin to go well, and pray for comfort if your friend reaches a valley. Even when we cannot physically help those we love in need, prayer allows us to place it in God’s hands, and He is capable (Zephaniah 3:17).

We should pray for others because Jesus prayed for us. In fact, He prayed to His Father for us. Now that He intercedes for us, He will continue to do so on our behalf. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV).

Serve them

Along with being there and praying for our friends in crisis, we should also serve them in any way we can. Simple actions like sending cards, bringing home-cooked meals, and even just meeting up with them for a cup of coffee can speak volumes. Also, inviting them to dinner and just providing their company can help them a lot. Anything you can think of that can help your friend or family member specifically – especially if it involves encouragement and love – is a great idea.

Speaking of love, service is a way that we can show love to others, especially when times get dark. We should show love to others because Christ loved us (1 John 4:19), and His perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). That’s why God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, so that His love could cover us and that we may be able to join Him in Heaven (John 14:3; Acts 1:10).

At the end of the day, this world is not our home (Matthew 24:35). There’s a lot of strife out there, and that strife will affect our friends and family at some point. But we cannot allow that to discourage us to the point that we feel unable to help them in some way. Sometimes, the best place to start is to be there for them, then listen, pray, and serve as they have need. And God will lead you both through the trials that come.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4 NKJV).

By Savannah Cottrell