Very few people want to be left alone when they’re suffering. They may seem stand-offish, but isolation is often the result of shame or fear. If someone you love is screening your calls (and you’re sure it’s not because you’ve been a jerk), there’s a good chance he or she needs some extra TLC. Here are a couple of examples:

A mother of two has just had her third child. She hasn’t been around much, but you figure it’s just because she’s busy with the new baby. When you talk with her, she seems very tired and talks about wanting to stay in bed all day. She has stopped attending events she would normally care about. You don’t want to pry, but you feel a little worried.

Some friends of yours got married six months ago. Whenever you see them, they always seem fine. But they frequently cancel when you try to get together with them. Then you get a message one day telling you that she’s going on an extended trip to her parents’ house to visit. Maybe it’s normal – or maybe they’re having problems in their marriage.

When people ask me what they should do when their “gut” tells them something is wrong, I always tell them to pray for wisdom and then reach out. It can’t do any harm to ask someone if they’re having problems. It doesn’t communicate that you’re nosy or pushy – in fact, just the opposite. When a friend is in trouble and she hears from you, you’ll probably be the most likely person she’ll trust with her pain.

I’ll admit – a lot of what I believe about people comes from my experience with people. And I’ve only had one experience in which I reached out to someone I thought was having trouble and she was angry. And, come to think of it, even that person was actually really hurting but just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. Eventually even she came around because she knew I cared.

We should never be afraid to ask probing questions of people we love. Christ is our example in this – He asked lots of hard questions, and His purpose was always the changing of someone’s heart. May grace blend perfectly with truth as we walk alongside others who are fighting tough battles.

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