In one of the perhaps 4 times that my wife and I have been able to leave the house together since our son became seriously ill, we happened to run into a friend we used to attend church with. It had been a few years since we had spoken, yet she greeted us with, “Tell me how are things going with your son. We have heard so much about him from Facebook.”
I have to say that I reacted with quite the concoction of emotion. I first wondered why, knowing what was going on, she had neglected to visit, call, send a message, something to let us know that she was praying for us. Then it occurred to me, “Even though Facebook has been around for some time, perhaps people are not sure how to use it to enter into these situations with those of us who are struggling with life’s circumstances.”
Here, then, are tips that I have come up with to specifically address how to use Facebook to help offer care, support, and prayer for people who are ill or in need. If you think of any more, please feel free to contribute by adding your thoughts in the comments.
- Click ‘Like’: This idea comes first because it is the simplest. For many people Facebook is a quick stop in the day or the week, so it doesn’t lend to having in-depth interactions. I cannot tell you how meaningful it is just to have someone click “like” on a post as an indication that they are offering support. It shows not only your support, but that you have taken the time to read what was written and that you notice what is happening in our lives.
- Say You Are ‘Praying’: Even if you are not sure what to say, which can be often in certain cases, simply adding the word “praying” to the comments means so much. Obviously it mean a bit more than just clicking “like” because it not only is a show of support, but it is more specific that you are not only thinking of us and feel for us, but that you are specifically praying for God’s gracious intervention.
- Thoughtful Comments: You may also choose to leave a longer comment. We are always eager to hear that you have asked your church to pray for Tinsley. It is also nice to hear from you if you have also gone through a similar experience, even if yours seems minor in comparison. It is encouraging to hear stories where God intervened and how he saw you through.
- Sharing Status Updates: When I post a status update asking for prayer, I really hope that as many people who read it will pray. It is always welcome to share that prayer request by clicking “share” under the update. That way when people choose to agree with us in prayer, their comments on your “share” send notifications to me as well. It is a great comfort to know that so many believers are interceding for us.
- Send a Private Message: We have been so thankful for messages we receive privately as well. Either on Facebook itself or by email, card, text, or other forms of communication it is great to hear from you. We have been blessed to hear from many people who have been in similar situations who share their stories with us in that format. These stories are often very personal, and it is understandable and advisable to use this private format to share details that are not as appropriate to share in a public forum.
The Bible teaches in Galatians 6 to “bear one another’s burdens” as we participate in the Body of Christ. Facebook and other social media can be such an excellent tool to stay connected, to build relationships, and to share love and support with others. In our Christian service we should not limit our support to other Christians, but we can share the same love and kindness with all those who struggle with the effects of sin that have permeated every aspect of our lives.
Thank you again to all those who continue to take our petition for the health of our son to the Throne of Grace. My wife and I were just sharing with a friend last night about the amazing providence of God we have seen in our lives over the last several years preparing for the health and well-being of our infant son.
God’s ways are so far beyond our ways. Thanks be to God!