How to Help Someone in Crisis

How to Help Someone in Crisis


by Rita Langeland

A stranger sat in a hospital room at the bedside of a teenager he did not know. He had found him on the ground bleeding from a stab wound in an alley behind a raucous nightclub in South Africa. The man placed him in the backseat of his car and drove him to the hospital. For many days, he sat by his side, as the young man slowly came out of the fog of a drug induced haze. When the teen was conscious, his story came out.

He was a musician who had performed at that nightclub. While pushing his way through the noisy crowd, he was stabbed by an unknown assailant. No one seemed to notice him as he stumbled along bleeding. Between the drugs in his system and the loss of blood, he collapsed in the alley while trying to find help. Had the stranger not intervened, his crisis would have resulted in death. But the stranger did not stop there. He spoke to the young man of God’s love and purpose for his life. He led him in a prayer to surrender his life to the Lord and gave him counsel as to how to begin a new life in Christ. When he was discharged from the hospital, the stranger drove him home. The young man, whose name was Kim Clement, never saw that stranger again. Yet his intervention in Kim’s crisis changed his life forever. Kim became a minister who touched the lives of many around the world.

It is highly probable that you know one or more people facing a personal crisis right now. Perhaps you have wanted to help them but didn’t know what to say or feared you might say the “wrong thing.” And yet your intervention may be the key to changing their life.

The Bible gives us some very good counsel on how to help people in a crisis. In the book of Exodus, we find a story about Moses and the children of Israel from which we can glean some wisdom to help others who are facing a time of great stress in their lives.

In this passage of scripture, the Israelites were headed to the Promised Land, after having just escaped the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Suddenly, they found themselves confronted by an enemy army of Amalekites who were ready to attack. As their leader, Moses was under extreme pressure to save the ragtag group of former slaves from what looked like certain disaster.

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.  So, Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow, I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”  Joshua did just as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So, it came about, when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed; but when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.  And Moses’ hands were heavy. So, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. So, his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek… Exodus 17:8-13 (NASB)


Aaron and Hur walked with Moses up the hill and STOOD WITH MOSES. They were physically present for Moses. The scripture does not say they said a single word to him – they just stood with him on that hill. Many people avoid others who are going through difficult times because they feel inadequate to give them counsel. You can stand with people in their crisis even if you do not know what to say – just be physically present! That alone brings comfort and shows love and compassion.

While Aaron and Hur stood with Moses – they were able to observe what he needed. Their first observation was that Moses needed to sit down – he was tired. So, they found a stone and put it under him. They provided a rock chair so that he could save his strength. It was a simple thing but so very helpful! We need to be willing to stand with people in their distress, even if we cannot imagine how we can help. Practical needs will become apparent if you just show up.

Aaron and Hur were also able to observe that Moses needed someone to hold up his arms because he was becoming exhausted. The scriptures tell us that while Moses’ hands were held high – Joshua and the Israelite army prevailed. But when Moses put his hands down, the enemy prevailed. So, they stepped up and provided that very simple act of physically holding up Moses’ arms. Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. So, his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek…. That one small intervention by Aaron and Hur changed the direction of the battle and helped bring the victory!

You will never know the power of the practical help you can provide to a person going through a difficult season unless you stand with them, observe the needs, and then serve!


Many of the crises of life involve grief over the loss of loved ones. If you are familiar with the Biblical book of Job, you may recall Job lost all his children in a single disastrous event – when a house collapsed on them during a fierce windstorm. Job’s friends heard about his tremendous losses and came to visit him. Though later in the narrative, Job’s friends said everything you should not say to a grieving person, they started out well and their example is worth noting. Job 2:13 reads, “Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”

Just sitting with a hurting person speaks volumes and brings immeasurable comfort. No words are needed if you can just hold their hand or allow them to cry on your shoulder. God can use you to be His agent of comfort and you don’t need words for this assignment!


However, there are times when words will help. You may not have a suggested list of “5 easy ways to win this battle” to give to your friend in crisis. But you can say what God says and know that you are on solid ground. Here is an exhortation to God’s people found in the book of Isaiah:

Encourage the exhausted and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” Isaiah 35:3 (NASB 1995)

God’s people are called to be those who can speak encouragement, faith, and hope for the future. The Bible is full of such words, and you can use scripture to encourage and comfort someone in crisis. Whether you speak words of encouragement face to face, through a letter, email, or text message, you can say what God says to your hurting friend. And those words will be meaningful.


You may be far away from the friend or relative that is going through a crisis and yet you long to help. Don’t allow yourself to say, “all I can do is pray,” as if that was a lesser level of assistance than those described above. Prayer is powerful and needed in EVERY crisis! The apostle Paul highly valued the prayers of others which were lifted to God for him. In fact, he exhorted the believers to pray for him when he was facing danger during his missionary journeys.

In First Thessalonians 5:25 he wrote, “Brethren, PRAY FOR US!”

Paul told the believers in the Corinthian church, “ you are helping us by praying for us.” (2 Cor 1:11a NLT)

Don’t be ashamed to tell those in crisis that you are praying for them. Pray and believe like the apostle Paul that you are helping the person in need through your prayers.

God wants to use you to comfort and encourage those facing a crisis. You simply need to be willing to STAND, SIT, SAY and PRAY!