I am praying for my Christian friends who are going through a difficult time right now. May God bless them and give them strength during their trials.
I know what it feels like to have a hard time. Which prompted me to write this post titled “encouraging words for a friend going through a tough time”. I experienced a rough time not long ago and that season of heaviness, depression and stress affected me deeply.
It actually began when I broke a bone. The limited mobility really worked on me emotionally. I felt so useless and isolated. I also felt forgotten. It was a very hard time.
Even after the shock of the injury wore off, this bad feeling lingered and lingered for weeks.
It was likely related to hormones and changes happening in this current season of my life, but either way, I was struggling while my friends and loved ones were wondering what to say to me going through such a hard time. I’m sure they felt confused and helpless.
At the end of this post, I’ll tell you another key reason I think I experienced this heaviness and it was all my fault. Still, I wished the people in my life knew what to say to their friend going through a tough time
Another reason for a hard time.
Anyway, it’s also important to say holidays often cause depressive moods and when I was going through my hard time, the holidays were looming.
I’m not the only one. Holidays can be hard because people often remember the people who have gone on to glory, the relationships they’ve lost, or even the unrealistic expectations of gifts, parties, and the like. Stay close to friends during this time. Just saying.
My recent depressive state had nothing to do with the holidays, but more to do with lack of rest, again, hormones (can ya say menopause?), and the inability to physically do the things I was accustomed to doing. I’m so glad that season passed.
Do know: I am sure other hard times will come again in some other form. That is life. Hard times come and, Boy, what help a friend can bring.
Anyway, let me tell you what helped me and what would have helped me more in the context of friends trying to support me.
1. Encouraging words for a friend going through a tough time.
Hey, don’t try to understand it, man.
The best support came from those who didn’t try to analyze my struggle.
When I was going through my dark time, I didn’t want to explain it to anyone. Nor did I want to have to correct their misperceptions about it.
I just wanted to get through it.
The problem with asking repeated “what’s wrong” questions is that it puts the person suffering on the spot.
Oftentimes, you can’t explain the “why”.
You don’t have the words. You just are in a “funk” and want to get out of it.
It’s ok to ask the question ONCE. But, I think it’s better to say something like “I’m here. Or, if you want to talk, I’m here.”
That’s better. Do you agree?
Point: What to say to someone going through a hard time? Say “I got you and am here no matter what. Period.”
The Holy Spirit has the POWER to guide you and give you the right encouraging words for a friend going through a tough time. I’m a Christian and I know God can help. Pray before talking to your friend or trying to encourage them. It really does make a difference.
2. Don’t feel compelled to give advice.
In fact, this whole “advice” thing makes me want to hang up the phone on folks.
I’ve lived over half of a century.
I’ve served and studied God for over 30 years of that time. I know a lot of things and many scriptures.
When I was going through a hard time, I didn’t need anyone to recite the Bible to me over and over or try to solve my problem.
I already know the Bible verses!
Instead, I just needed support and understanding.
Those people who were trying to always “fix” my problem and saying “do this” or “do that” got on my nerves. Seriously.
Note: sometimes, it is appropriate to help solve a problem when a person is going through a hard season. At the same time, it’s not always the case.
Your job, as a good friend, is to know when to help solve problems, when to quote scripture and when to just shut up.
Point #2: Your silence can be golden.
3. Gentle support gestures go a long way when giving encouraging words to a friend going through a tough time.
My best friend is the absolute best at supporting me through my hard times. Maybe that’s why she is my best friend.
She’s had plenty of practice! Ha!
For real, her cards, texts, and words of encouragement are always right on time.
She always seems to know the appropriate encouraging words for a friend going through a tough time.
She always knows what to do without doing too much.
Her subtle gestures fuel me through the storm.
I prefer those gestures to a nosy person always trying to figure out exactly what’s wrong with me.
Here is what you do for your friend going through hard times…
– Send a few texts.
– Call, if you feel prompted to do so. However, call with the intent to listen more than you talk.
– Share funny things that happened throughout the day and bring cheer without being inquisitive or overbearing.
– You don’t really need to “KNOW” what’s going on to be supportive. Remember that.
– Ask something like “on a scale from 1-10, 10 being “awesome”, how’s today? Then, just listen or move on.
– Always end with the “I’m here if you want to talk” sentiment.
Remember, keep it moving.
Don’t say anything about what the person should or shouldn’t do…unless they ask.
4. Don’t scripture-shower your friends going through hard times.
This may seem controversial to some, but when you “scripture” people to death during a hard time, it often lands on deaf ears. That is unless you find the right scripture.
Again, I’m annoyed (sometimes) by people telling me scriptures I already know when I’m at the lowest point. After all, I’ll say it again…KNOW THEM!
Instead, try to relate to your friend. Talk to them. Meet a practical need, like lunch, cut their grass, bring shampoo, toilet paper – anything!
I don’t hate the Bible…
In my drama, I may sound like I actually am an anti-Bible person; I’m really not. I just think Christians use it as a quickie solution without doing the work of really figuring out how to genuinely help. Some scriptures really did help me.
Hey, do you know which ones blessed me most during my difficult time?
It was the friends who sent me some of those little-known obscure Old Testament scriptures. You know, the ones most people don’t know.
I loved those scriptures that really demonstrated God was there for me without me needing to do or be anything. Don’t you love those sorts of scriptures too???
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses His people with peace”.Psalm 29:11
That scripture will lift anyone any time – even if for a moment.
Here’s another scripture to send to someone having a hard time:
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak”Isaiah 40:29
Yes! Text me that type of verse! Right????
Tell me those scriptures when I’m having a hard time! Only do so when the Lord leads ya. Don’t shower your friend with them or you’ll just irritate her. Timing is everything.
Point: What to say to someone going through a hard time? Say the right scripture at the right time.
One more scripture for your friend who is “going through” it!
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever”Psalm 73:26
5. Be a safe place … for real.
Resist the urge to tell anyone else your friend is going through a hard time or even that you’ve talked to them. After all, what’s the point?
The only exception is if you feel they are in danger or struggling with suicidal thoughts. In that case, do not be silent. No! Speak up and speak up loudly!!!! Don’t leave them. This situation calls for desperate measures.
Ordinary life doldrums are different. It’s no one’s business you encouraged your friend or that they felt low. Again, what’s the point?
I can’t stand people who tell me “She’s going through a hard time so I had to pray for her.” Why did they feel the need to tell me about it unless they want me to do something with the information?
As a pastor’s wife, this does happen from time to time. I feel unless I can call her right now WITH YOU ON THE PHONE, I shouldn’t know about it. It feels gossipy and icky.
As an authentic friend, all you have to do is pray and be a consistent source of non-judgmental support.
Again, no one else needs to know.
Not your mate, not your mom, not anyone! They don’t need to know what’s up with your friend. Actually, that’s a good thing to say to someone going through a hard time. Say: “this won’t go any further.”
It will make them feel safe and reassure them you have their back. That’s what friends do.
What to say to someone going through a hard time? Say “this is between us and only us.”
So, there you go.
I’m no expert, I just care. So, those are my suggestions based on my experiences. You really gotta know your friend and what she needs, Christian woman.
Let me know in the comments what you think. I can learn something from you and so can others!
Here is a list of common
reasons people go
through hard times.
We are unforgiving and becoming bitter.
I went through it myself recently.
I talk about it honestly in a blog post.
Here’s an excerpt:
“The person who hurt me was close to being a friend in my book.
I trusted her with some (not all) secrets.
I put myself on the line for her so she could thrive and I often helped her do her life better…even when it was a huge inconvenience for me. I even took a backseat on projects so she could shine.” Read my entry about the steps I took to forgive someone.
We fight with the wrong tools and create collateral damage along the way.
Let God be your Avenger!
Here is a snippet:
“…Why because we try to do things like the “world” does. I know why!
As Christians, we live on earth (that’s a no-brainer, right?)
We occupy on earth; we cultivate earth…so we were earth-dwellers, right? I said “earth-dwellers…not bottom-feeders”.
Check out my post: https://godsygirl.com/god-is-your-avenger/
Want to hear a piece?
“I want to be clear because real depression exists and I don’t want to be flippant about it.
Depression is nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing that only scripture can remedy.
For genuine, dogged depression, you need help and it’s ok to need help. “…If you suffer from lingering depression, please get real help from a professional (not just a person in ministry), but someone who has been educated to understand the human brain.” Read the rest here.
We have unrealistic cultural expectations.
“…For generations, the world told us we were ugly.
It said we were unattractive because of the way our hair hangs (yet Caucasian women would get curly perms); it said our skin tone was horrible, yet, they would bake for hours under the sun for a tan. Worse yet, the beautiful symmetry of our full breasts and curvy figures were considered “fat” yet they would get implants. Popular culture has always maligned us in media and in popular opinions. Still, we survived.
Please know, that I’m not being angry or bitter. Just, stating my truth. So, in spite of all this, black women had (and continually have to) define and embrace their own brand of beautiful. It’s sort of ironic because we were appealing and beautiful all along. Society just never embraced it.” Read it all.
Wow. Yes, I went “there” in this blog post called “Understanding the strong Black woman thing”
For years I thought I had to bear the weight of the world because Black women were “strong”. Indeed we are.
Many cultures bear strong women, but that doesn’t make me a super-human. Be sure to read this one even if you are not a woman of color.
Before you know what to say to someone going through a hard time, you may want some context.
Here are a few resources I’ve found:
“College students guide to depression”
Embracing stress is more important than reducing stress, Stanford “psychologist says”
Psychology Today is always a helpful resource.
Check out this article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/depression
Here it is:
A major reason
I was melancholy.
Remember I told you my rough time was largely my own fault?
It was. The reason is I neglected my time with the Lord.
I wasn’t praying every day in solitude with God. I wasn’t setting aside the special, designated time to just be with Him. I’m talking about real Bible devotions that include prayer, silence, and Bible searching.
Fumes are what I was running on and it showed.
I became unraveled. When you don’t “abide in the Lord, you become spiritually weakened. The enemy is able to pounce on you and depression is often the result.
Full disclosure, I set myself up for the “pounce”. I had a major pity party!
Worship is also what I neglected. Most days I was stuck in my bed with my foot in the air. I binged on movies and watched sitcoms like a spoiled little brat.
I didn’t worship God. I didn’t feel my spirit with sounds of praise. My bad and my fault. I had one long pity party (8 weeks) and it was foolish and useless.
Maybe not useless because I learned a lesson from it: SPEND ALONE, QUIET TIME WITH THE LORD EVERY DAY.
I knew this lesson but needed a reminder.
That’s it. Now you know what to say to someone going through a hard time…or at least what I think you should say.
What would you add? Tell me in the comments!
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Text a Scripture to a friend.
Don’t forget, the pain can often be too intense to take in too many scriptures at once. Sending scriptures can also seem “preachy” too. Use wisdom. Be sure to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to direct you.
2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Philippians 4: 12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
Isaiah 40:29 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.
1 Peter 5: 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Hebrews 4:16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Deuteronomy 31:6,8 Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you;my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Psalm 9:9-10 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 34:10b Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Isaiah 26: 3-4 Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
1 Chronicles 16:11 Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 32:7-8 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Bible Verses of Encouragement That Bring Comfort
God doesn’t always take away the pain or suffering that we’re dealing with, but he does give us comfort in the midst of those troubles.
Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Isaiah 49:13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted.
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
Romans 8:37-39 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be frightened. The Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.
Psalm 56:3-4 In the day when I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God whose word I praise, in God I have trusted; I will not fear. What can mere flesh do to me?
Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom will I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom will I be afraid?
Psalm 31:24 (MSG) Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon. (You gotta love the Message Bible, right???)
Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand. (When my brother passed, this scripture helped me so much)
Gained too much weight… God helps! – GodsyGirl Inspiration for Christian Women and Pastors Wives
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2 thoughts on “Encouraging words for a friend going through a tough time”
Thank you, Sis. Mor rod us have to share our struggles so we can indeed stop the stigma and misunderstandings about depression, oppression and heaviness.
Thank you for sharing your experience. You are helping #stopthestigma.