When helpfulness turns hurtful: Proven models for the hurting world

Millions of dollars continue to be pumped towards training programs designed to address human suffering, with very little progress to show for. Could it be that the training approaches in place are infact exacerbating human suffering? Perhaps even compounding the very problem they were designed to solve and contributing to more wasted resources? Why is addressing the plight of the hurting through an academic exercise failing to move the needle? What does a hurting world need?

Reflecting on the recent Easter holiday, God’s solution for a hurting world was a response in love to restore broken relationships. Over 2000 years ago, Jesus modeled how love and restoring broken relationships addresses human suffering. Could it be that the current models fail to address human suffering because they lack the relational love factor?

What does loving the hurting look like? Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan who stopped to care for a hurt stranger on the side of the road to illustrate love. While the Samaritan may have lucked the accolades of the priest and the Levites, he responded in love. As such, it takes more than head knowledge and rigorous training to move us to compassion to respond in love to the hurting. The love of God is what compels us to respond to a hurting world.

Love sees beyond the material needs of the down and out… beyond their need for handouts. Love sees the inherent quest for right relationships. When right relationships are at work, we can address the plight of the suffering.

What do right relationships look like?

  • Right relationship with God: God designed us (His Children) to enjoy him as Father
  • Right relationship with self: God designed us in His image. As such, we have inherent worth and dignity
  • Right relationship with others: God designed us to love and serve others using our God-given gifts and resources
  • Right relationship with God’s creation: God made us stewards of His creation and through the fruits of our stewardship, we sustain ourselves

To respond to a hurting world in love, must be more than an academic exercise. To see beyond physical needs, to restore the hurting in right relationship with God as children of God, to affirm to the suffering their worth and dignity, to cultivate fulfilling friendships and the means toward a sustainable livelihood. What the hurting and suffering need is what we all need. The need for love and right relationships.

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