Bible Reading: Galatians 6:1-5
Share each other’s troubles and problems. Galatians 6:2
“I’m really frustrated with this friend,” Jamal fumed. “His parents are divorcing, but he hardly talks about it. It’s like he has to handle his problems totally on his own.
That’s a problem you face when you want to be an available friend. People seldom blurt out, “I need help.” But you can be sure it’s time to be an available friend when someone talks or acts in a way that shows any of these major signs:
• Disappointment. Robert was severely disappointed when he didn’t make the traveling baseball team but several of his buddies did. You’re seeing disappointment when a friend’s hopes or expectations aren’t met. Many disappointments are small-but they sting.
• Discouragement. Kathi’s disappointments with her struggles at school piled up until she felt like she was under a mound of discouragement. You’re seeing discouragement when a friend’s hope and confidence shrink and he or she doesn’t seem to care as much about life.
• Depression. Simon’s discouragement over his family situation slid into long periods of gloominess, sadness, and pulling away from others. Those are all signs of depression.
People weighed down with disappointment, discouragement, and depression might be all around you-yet you still might not spot them.
Why? Well, how good are you at hiding your true feelings? Even if you spill everything you think and feel, many students don’t. Like Jamal’s friend, they cover up and bottle up. But the more you become known as a caring person available to others, the more those friends will open up and share their feelings. You can learn to spot when someone is down by looking for those signs mentioned above. And you can always ask someone, “How are you really doing?”
There’s no doubt that God invites your hurting friends to tell him their cares and troubles (see 1 Peter 5:7). Because God cares about our disappointments, discouragement, and depression, he promises to help (see Hebrews 4:16). But God has another strategy to help: putting you into the lives of struggling friends.
You won’t be able to solve all of a friend’s problems. You often will need to ask an adult for help-especially when a friend dips into discouragement, and always when a friend seems depressed. But you can always be a listening ear.
TALK: Who in your world needs you right now to be an available friend? What can you do for that person?
PRAY: God, we want to show your care and love to our hurting friends. We want to be available friends.
ACT: Make a concrete plan as a family to reach out to a hurting friend.