Being There: How To Love Those Who Are Hurting, by Dave Furman. It did not disappoint. Author Dave Furman shares his life with his difficult disease which is not only difficult for himself but also his wife, family and friends. Having an illness like Furman's when one doesn't look ill makes it all the worse for all those involved. Furman shares his joys and disappointments on a personal level and imparts wisdom for the caretaker, friend, spouse, pastor and everyone acquainted with someone suffering from any of life's trials.
This work is packed with advice for the caretaker and for the sufferer. From the outset however Furman makes it clear that, "The goal of this entire book is to point you to Jesus, who is your only hope, and to walk you through some ways to love those who hurt with the strength God provides." Indeed, the book ends with the same reminder. We are to point those who suffer to Christ. Words of encouragement or comfort often fail, but Christ never does. This is not all we can do but it is at the heart of what we do and say.
Furman's style is warm, funny and direct to the point. He quotes sufferers that have gone before us and points the reader to Scripture often. He shares events from his life that are sometimes humorous but often heartbreaking as his disability affects all those around him. But it makes the book real, not just a book of self help hints to get the reader through difficult times, but seasoned, hard advice for those dark, lonely times of hurting the caretaker endures.
He tasks the reader to refer to the gospel to find hope. "In order to adequately care for others, we must first need this news (and the Spirit of God) to stir in us a new and greater affection." We must also learn to listen rather than talk. "Listening is a great way to start loving and comforting someone who is suffering. Good friends and counselors understand that oftentimes the best thing they can do is be quiet and listen."
This leads me to one of the most important and helpful chapters of the book, Whatever You Do, Don't Do These Things. Though well intended, some words and actions of encouragement are more harmful than helpful. If you cannot imagine what these are then I strongly urge you to give close attention to this chapter.
As Furman was writing the conclusion to this book he suffered another severe attack of pain which left him discouraged. Though I don't wish pain on anyone, I am grateful he related this episode in the book. Even after penning this work he fell into a short period of discouragement. His honesty displayed his humanness in that he still does not have all the answers. Neither do we. Our hope is in Christ for now and evermore.
Crossway has provided a complimentary copy of
this book through Beyond the Page.