When a friend flounders.

(This is a guest post from my friend Rich Dixon.)

What do you do when a friend’s floundering?

  • I know … you listen, except sometimes you can’t.
  • You pray, and you want desperately to believe it helps, but it feels distant and invisible and you want something here-and-now.
  • You ask if there’s anything you can do when you know the answer will be that there’s really nothing you can do. So you hear, “Thanks for asking,” but that doesn’t seem like it helped much.

When a friend’s floundering, is it true that there’s not much you can do that matters?

You can try some of those simplistic platitudes that offer easy answers to hard questions and quick fixes to long-term problems. They sound “nice” and we pretend they make us feel better, but nobody believes them—not really.

I try asking myself, “What helps me when I’m in that kind of place?”

But the answer’s not very helpful, because the honest answer is, “Nothing, at least nothing anyone else can do.”

Does that sound cruel? Sorry, it’s just true. I appreciate the sentiment, but the truth is that only one thing really helps me.

Me. And time. With Jesus.

I don’t like that answer. I want something visible, and He’s not. I want something immediate, and time takes, well, time. I want someone else to fix it, to be responsible for it, but there just me.

So you listen, if you can. You pray. You do whatever you can.

But mostly you trust Jesus.

Maybe that’s the best thing you can do for your friend. You trust, when your friend believes but can’t quite feel it, that He’ll penetrate the fog and touch a heart.

Someone trusted in your place once. Looking back, it was the thing that made all the difference.

So that what you do for your friend. You trust.

12 thoughts on “When a friend flounders.

  1. Pingback: Taking It Personally — Bouncing Back

  2. Lari

    I found out Tuesday night that one of my friends has been diagnosed with PTSD, which is made more complicated by things going on in her marriage. And I don’t know what to say to her or how to help her. So I really appreciate hearing this, because it’s breaking my heart wanting to help and feeling helpless.


  3. Joseph Ruiz

    Good word Rich. I have been floundering a bit lately. Early this week I was whining to the Lord. I felt he said “you are looking for a bailout, I am offering structural, fundamental change” He is right of course, the bailout seems like the obvious solution but then i realize a bailout is just a quick fix, doesn’t require much trust and ultimately doesn’t provide the best solution.

    Now to internalize this and live it out! 😉

    Grace and Peace


  4. Cheryl Smith

    You’re right, Rich. It sounds trite, but it really is true. We are finite in our abilities to help anyone, let alone ourselves. Jesus alone is infinite.


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