Many languages did not have a written form or alphabet before the arrival of their European or French conquerors, and in Samoa’s case, the arrival of European missionaries.
The vocabulary of many native languages was as large as their European settlers, and often their expressions were far more rich and eloquent.
The concept of the word for “understand” for example, in Samoan, is a concept meaning to cause light, to enlighten; to shine upon.
Similarly in the native American’s one tongue, the concept of the word ‘friend’ is beautifully stated as ‘one who carries my sorrows on his or her back’.
One of the most beautiful things ever said about Jesus in the Bible is that He is able ‘to empathise with our weaknesses’.
When someone comes to you for solace, or saying they want to seek advice, very often they want nothing more than your presence, a listening ear, and a willingness to share in their sorrow. They sometimes just want you to empathise with them, and understand what they are going through.
When your answer sounds like a ‘quick fix’, that could make them feel that you have no time for them.
Sometimes what a person wants most from you is simply to know that you understand what they’re going through, and that you care.
So here’s how you can help:
(1) Listen with an open heart, instead of trying to talk away their problem.
Many of us are not good listeners, because we are too eager to talk about what we think about the problem, or even worse, tell of our experiences. Often, bad listeners would jump in while someone is mid-sentence, without realising it.
(2) If they’re crying, share their tears. If they’re silent, share their silence.
(3) Let them know you’re available, ready to help, and that you will always have time for them.
(4) Remind them that as humans, we can only do so much, but God can do the impossible.
(5) If they will allow you to, pray for them and with them. That way, you help lift the burden off their shoulders and place it on God’s (see Psalm 55:22).
Adapted from The Word for Today by Bob and Debby Gass. Click here to subscribe to the Word for Today sent to you via email daily.