…I have a friend who has been physically and emotionally abused. He is an atheist because he says that God left him all those times he was being abused. He struggles with the idea of Christianity, but it willing to listen. However, too many people have preached at him, telling him he will go to hell if he doesn’t changed. What do I say to him? I really care a lot, and want to help him.
We all have friends who have been hurt by life’s experiences and are struggling to believe the truth of God’s love, forgiveness, and mercy. And most of us have known a person or two who had spoken the truth, but not in love, and know the damage that can do.
In this situation, I believe your responsibility is to be loving and truthful at the same time, without taking on the burden of fixing your friend’s problems. We can praise God that we already have a Savior equipped to carry those burdens, and do not need to take His place. The challenge is what to do while we’re waiting on God. May I recommend the following:
- Pray! Specifically, for God to open the eyes and heart of your friend.
- Love! Look for ways to show love to your friend, by treating them kindly, sending a nice short note, including them in your activity.
- Boundaries! Keep in mind that you can’t fix their problems, even though they may expect you to. Avoid long, deep conversations, especially late at night. Keep the attitude about life neutral. Look for positive situations to focus on. Since this particular friend is a guy, encourage him to turn to guys to spend time with. Be sure to not fill the roll of mother nor best friend, which would be the naturally tendency for a hurting guy and a sensitive gal.
- Truth! Encourage your friend to seek Christian counseling to help him walk through his pain and problems. Remind him of God’s love for him and ability to heal the wounds life has caused.
- Help! Ask for help from an older woman, and suggest he find help from an older man, especially if he refuses seeking counseling. This is not betrayal, but rather the way to show love to your friend by looking out for his spiritual and physical well being.
These steps will help you be “a friend that loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)