Summary: It`s healing when we listen to people.
Frieda Reichmann was an Austrian psychotherapist of high repute. In the 1930`s, as a Jew, she fled from the Nazis to America. Because of her reputation, she was sought out by a wealthy American who insisted on consulting her - "No, No!" she said, but her "No. Noes" didn`t work.
Some years later she was making an appeal for a particular fund, and received an extremely generous donation from this grateful patient. He recalled how vitally he had been helped by the interview, how great a difference it had made to his life since.
She thanked him for his donation, but then she said this: "You know, when you came to me and told me your problem, I could hardly speak a word of English. Really, I couldn`t understand a word you were saying". All she had done was to sit and make reassuring sounds from time to time, and as she did, the things in his life he was having problems with dropped into place.
Taylor Caldwell, in the Foreword to her book "The Man who Listens" says this: "The most desperate need of men today is not a new vaccine for any disease, not a new religion or a new way of life. Man doesn’t need to go to the moon, or to other solar systems. He will not die if he doesn’t get better housing, or more vitamins. He will not die of frustration if he is unable to buy the brightest and newest gadgets or if all his children cannot go to College. His basic needs are few and it takes little to acquire them, despite what the advertisers say.
His real need - his most terrible need is for someone to listen to him, not as a patient, but as a human soul. He needs to tell someone what he thinks, of the bewilderment he encounters when he tries to discover why he was born, how he must live, and where his destiny lies".
Christians need to respond to that need. We need to listen and hear the heart cry of the people we meet.
I once went to the home of a man who had just died. When his widow opened the door I said, "I’m the Vicar of St. John`s. I’m taking your husband`s funeral on Friday, and I wanted to meet you. (She wasn`t a churchgoer, and she wasn`t a Christian). She welcomed me in and offered me a cup of tea, and, as she was making it she started talking. For 25 minutes she talked about her husband - about what kind of a man he was - how he was towards her, and she to him - how she`d felt about him - how much he`d loved her". When she finished I asked her if she`d mind me praying with her, and in the prayer I thanked God for their life together and asked Jesus to touch her in the middle of her sorrow". In 25 minutes that prayer was the first thing I had spoken, that and the statement of who I was and why I was there.
When the funeral was over that Friday, she came to me and said: "I want to thank you, Vicar, for the things you said to me when you visited me. They meant so much"!.... and I`d said nothing - except that, by my presence there, I`d said, "I care". I`d only been there for 25 minutes, but that woman was indeed touched by the love of Christ in a way that she hadn`t been touched in all her long years. She started coming to Church regularly and then she became a Christian after that!
People are open to be loved and cared for at a time of deep distress, and it doesn`t take all the time in the world to let Christ say "I care" through us. Provided you are willing to find the Lord`s timing, things can begin to happen immediately, but if we dash in with words, and with solutions (the pills we always apply when we meet this kind of person), then they will go away untouched. There are no methods - only the loving touch of Christ.
Deidre was a schoolteacher, afraid of life, afraid of people, afraid of herself. The first time I saw her she couldn`t look me in the eye. During the weekend she was at our Conference Centre, our Community was speaking on the theme "God loves you, and accepts you as you are". It was like a lightning flash for Deirdre. "I`ve never seen that before. Could it possibly be true..... for ME?". We went to the Chapel to pray. I prayed that the Lord would give me the wisdom to say the right things, but no words would come. What happened was much more simple than that. She began to pray, "God, do you really love ME?" - and at that point I reached out and held her hand, and holding it, I prayed silently that God would touch her - and He did! My goodness, did He touch her!.