She is running
A hundred miles an hour
In the wrong direction
She is trying
But the canyon’s ever-widening
In the depths of her cold heart
So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She’s another two years older and she’s three more steps behind
Does anybody hear her?Casting Crowns, “Does Anybody Hear Her?”
Can anybody see?
Or does anybody even know she’s going down today?
Under the shadow of our steeple
With all the lost and lonely people
Searching for the hope that’s tucked away in you and me
Does anybody hear her?
Can anybody see?
I remember first hearing this song when it came out, and it really got to me. Because the truth is, there are a lot of hurting and discouraged people who just aren’t “seen” by you and me. We look right over them.
We say we want to encourage others, and I completely believe that desire is within us. Yet I think one of the things that trips us up the most is that we simply aren’t paying much attention to those around us. We’re too busy. We’re too focused on us.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be one of those people who notices others. I want to “see her.” But how do I make that change?
Identifying Those Who Are Hurting
Sometimes it is challenging to see those who are having a difficult time. We’ve all become accustomed to hiding it from others so they don’t see us in our need or pain. Here are some ideas to help identify those who might be struggling.
Consider ways that you need encouragement.
I would argue that we all need encouragement in our lives, whether we are facing a major crisis or simply having a frustrating day. As we try to pay more attention to those around us, let’s start by considering our own lives. Where do you need encouragement? Or, where have you needed encouragement in the past week? As we identify some of our own needs, we’ll be better able to recognize them in others.
Think about the people in your sphere of influence.
Sometimes we have a hard time seeing the hurt because we see it all the time and it simply doesn’t register with us anymore. Do any of these examples connect with you?
- your neighbor who cannot get out of the house that much due to health concerns
- the older gentlemen at the store who has a hard time getting his money out of his wallet because of the arthritis in his hands
- your church friend who is juggling multiple kids and trying to worship and listen during the service
- a coworker who is struggling with a work project
- the parents who have a chronically ill child
- your family member who just got unwanted news
- a business owner or ministry leader who feels alone and isolated
- the new parents who aren’t getting a lot of sleep or a lot of work done
- the nursing home patient who doesn’t have a lot of visitors
- your friend who just had a loved one pass away
- the hopeful mom who miscarried her baby
We have people all around us who are hurting, grieving, scared, lonely, sick, ashamed, excluded, and worried. How do we cultivate a habit of seeing those individuals so we don’t pass them by?
Cultivating a Habit of Paying Attention
Pray for God to open your eyes to those who are hurting.
Praying is a vital first response to this issue. We need God to help us see what we normally don’t see. We need Him to help us change our ways and become more others-focused.
For example: “God, open our eyes to see those around us who are hurting in any way, and open our hearts to be ready to love and encourage them in any way we can. For we know that as we love others, Your love is brought to full expression in us (1 John 4:12).”
Slow down and look around.
As you go about your day, slow down and look–really look–at those around you. Look at their posture and body language. Look to see if they make eye contact with anyone. What is their general demeanor? Can you see if anything is bothering them or discouraging them?
Be prepared to help.
I think sometimes we aren’t ready to step in and help others, and so we kind of make ourselves blind to their needs. (Sorry, just being honest here.) If I know I don’t have time for a longer conversation while I’m at the store, then when I pass someone I know, I keep responses short and keep moving.
It could also be that someone you know needs financial help, but you’re not in a place to help financially. Or someone needs a ride somewhere, but you aren’t in a place to offer that.
While we can’t meet every need that others have, we can certainly try to be prepared to help when we can. We can create margin in our schedule to have those longer conversations. We can tuck away $10 a month to bless someone else.
Son of Encouragement
Barnabas is my example in this area. He sold a field and gave the proceeds to those who needed it, he partnered up with Paul (who had recently converted and was having a hard time getting people to trust him), and he gave John Mark another chance after he quit (see Acts 4, Acts 11, and Acts 15). It seems he is always on the lookout for ways to help others. Even his name means Son of Encouragement.
What would it look like if we could be sons and daughters of encouragement, too? I’d love to hear your ideas. You can comment below or email me by clicking the envelope in the corner of your screen.