What do you want Me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32 CSB)
Friend to Friend
We’re celebrating love in happy ways this month. We’ll give each other heart-shaped balloons, cards with warm words, and boxes of chocolates. But what about the times when someone we love is in a hard place, not a happy one? What can we give then?
I’ll confess I’ve offered many unhelpful things to people I love through the years, like unwanted advice or spiritual clichés. But I’ve finally learned to ask one question that is actually a gift to someone who’s hurting.
I hear the tears in my friend’s voice. “I’m fine,” she says, “It’s no big deal.” She’s trying to stay strong but I know her well enough to sense her weariness. My first instinct is to try to make her feel better, to figure out a way to fix it. But I’ve learned what people want most is not for us to solve their problems but to stay with them in their pain.
It’s tempting to offer solutions, advice, or reassurance that all will be well. It’s harder to not react but respond, to sit in the sadness or anger of the people we love, to be a safe space where they can feel whatever they need to so they can begin to heal.
I’ve worked as a counselor and life coach, engaged with thousands of people as a writer, and spent four decades on this earth full of brokenhearted people. In all of that, I’ve found this one simple question to be the most helpful when someone in my life is hurting: How can I love you well right now?
This question means we’re asking rather than assuming, focusing on the other person instead of our own feelings, discovering what they truly want rather than what we think they need. No matter what the person says, even if their answer is entirely different than what ours would be, we listen with love and grace, and then do what we can.
I love that in so many of the encounters Jesus had with people on this earth He asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (Matthew 20:32). God made humans. The One who knows everything, who can do anything, still chooses to listen and respond. He could have skipped this part and simply solved the problem. But Jesus understood that what mattered most was not the solution but the soul in front of Him.
This Valentine’s Day let’s show our love in all the usual ways. We can send beautiful flowers, have a delicious meal, or surprise someone with a thoughtful gift. Let’s make sure that when the flowers fade, the last bite of dessert is gone, and the wrapping paper discarded, we know how to show our love the rest of the year too.
When I ask my friend how I can love her well she says, “Prayer and…pie.” We laugh and I tell her I can make both happen—I just need to know one more very important thing, “What kind of pie?”
Dear God, thank You for loving us lavishly—no matter what. Thank You for listening to our cares, concerns, and requests. Help us love those around us well. Teach us to listen with patience and live with kindness.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
How have you seen God’s love at work in your life this month? And just for fun—what kind of pie would you choose?
More from the Girlfriends
Holley Gerth is a bestselling author, encourager and life coach who loves empowering women to embrace who they are and become all God created them to be. In her book You’re Loved No Matter What, Holley shares how God wants to set our hearts free by revealing the lies we believe and reminding us of the truth: His love has no limits, His love has no expectations, His love has no requirements, and His love is not dependent on us.
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© 2023 by Holley Gerth. All rights reserved.
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Happy Valentine’s Day, by the way…
The words of Jesus, “What do you want Me to do for you?” always gets my heart. I know in my own valley of darkness, I’m actually too sad, or embarrassed, to speak out what I really need from Him. And your question when dealing with others, “How can I love you well right now?”, is prefect! I’m gonna use that one.
I’ve prayed for my family for a long time and I’m bearing the changes I feel in my heart, that He will work “according to His purpose”.
The kind of pie I’d choose? Whoa, that’s a tough one. Too many to count! But, doesn’t southern pecan sound good right about now?
Thank you Holley for your advice simply worded but so profound. I am too quick to offer advice when I need to kindly just listen. In the future I will remember to ask “how can I love you well right now?” And, I love cherry pie!
Thank you for your words, Holly. I am in the place of needing people to just listen. My husband died three months ago, and my heart is raw. You have given such good advice for those who care and want to help. Sometimes, I just need someone to listen and give me a hug.
I love chocolate pecan pie!
I know someone who also lost her husband a few months ago. Our husbands were friends, but we didn’t really know each other until she started coming to my Bible Study. She is just so sad and lost without Brian. Thank you, Holley, for giving practical advice to love those who really need a boost this Valentine’s Day. Beverley, I pray that someone is the face of Jesus for you today to bring you comfort and peace.
I love lemon cream pie, so maybe my new friend will, too. Enjoy your blessings, everyone!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all Girlfriends In God! I too love your question Holly. I will use that in my Counseling Practice! I choose Pecan Pie! I’m just in Rogers, AR too! 😄💕💕💕