When persons are hit by a devastating event, pastors and counselors encourage them to talk about their feelings. It is believed this is good for a positive recovery. Careful study of the book of Psalms reveals that it helps people to talk out their angers, hurts, fears and rage. The Psalms are full of cries to God about feelings of depression, sadness, anger, loneliness and rejection. They are written evidence that God expects and recommends giving voice to our anguish.
It is helpful for people to talk out their feelings. That is why I stress the important Kindness Lesson of 'listening.' You can be an instrument in people's healing by listening to them and letting them talk. And . . . most importantly . . . let them talk about their feelings. Don't worry about the facts — they can come later. Don't offer helpful suggestions yet — that's not listening. Instead, offer encouragement for them to talk about their feelings.
For examples, look at Psalms 13, 22, 42, 88 and 109. The difference in the Psalms is that the outrage is aimed at God; it is then given to God; and finally it is left with God. Then, in most of the Psalms, healing happens. Change occurs, and the next thing is that the devastated person is praising God.
Research in the 20th century confirms the healing power of opening up about trauma. Those who do not disclose their feelings were found to have significantly more health problems than those who talk it out. Even writing about one’s trauma is beneficial to health. Patients who wrote for fifteen minutes on four consecutive days showed short term benefits and long term decreases in health problems.
So, my message today is two-fold: I'm speaking to you who are hurting, and I'm also speaking to those who are listening. Confession is good for the soul. So is lament, crying out to God, and to trusted friends. Shedding our tears and speaking our anguish can relieve us of unhealthy burdens. If you are hurting, confess it to trusted friends, or a counselor, or your pastor. But talk about it. Let it out.
If it is your friend who is hurting, give them room to lament. Encourage them to cry out. Listen to them as they confess their hurt. Bless them as you offer them your time and your caring heart.