The customary “How are you doing” greeting continues to receive the same casual responses of either “Good,” “fine,” or “ok.” 

Yet, today there may be a big difference when those replies are given. Most likely, they demand an appropriate, deeper, follow-up question. If asked again, the likelihood would be life is not so good, fine, or ok.

In reality, most people are hurting. Never in my life have I experienced more good people desiring to hurt other good people. The day of civil discourse is at an all-time low. The dilemma compounds itself because hurting people are easily hurt; therefore, they tend to hurt others. 

People today need hope and love. Giving hope and love first entails listening. St. James said it this way: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger; for anger never produces the righteous life God has planned for you.” 

Candidly, I am a work in progress still with this listening aspect. To listen first, speak second, and not try to win the conversation is challenging for me, especially when the conversation is with a hurting person who tends to hurt others.

This is the listening process I am learning for hurtful situations:

  1. Slow down the mind and heart; take a few slow breaths before saying one word.
  2. Major in listening, choosing not to win the conversation aggressively or defensively.
  3. Observe clearly and feel the other person’s internal hurt; it is his pain, but you can empathize. 

Not long ago, I read about an ancient Biblical community that had many hurting people. Its leadership advised the citizenry to grieve and fast for a period of time. Personally, I applied this grieving and fasting period to a hurt I was experiencing. My fast was 10 days of total silence both in thought and speech. Amazingly, after 10 days all my hurt was gone, reminding me God honors us when we obey His ways. 

Now is the time to practice St. James’ wise words of being quick to listen, and to remember hurting people are easily hurt and need love.