Helping the Sufferer: Motivation

If someone we love or care about has experienced a significant loss, we want to help. We may even feel the need to help. As a friend we can provide enormous support, encouragement, and hope. One way we can err with a friend or colleague, however, is in feeling too invested in “helping.”

I can think of two people I felt the need to help. One person I thought had to be in distress was the sister of someone who took their own life. I don’t remember the situation of the other person, but I initiated the contact to both out of concern for their suffering. But in both cases I felt driven by my need. In both cases, I also came away feeling frustrated because, in the end, what I thought prevented me from fully understanding how the other person felt.

As a counselor, when people came to me with a problem, or with a decision they had to make, I don’t recall feeling that way. I listened, took their struggles to heart, and collaborated with them on a plan to help. I found the process worked well, and the person “graduated,” leaving counseling better than when they came. In this type of encounter, motivation from the sufferer drove their  progress and increased  my effectiveness.

How have you experienced frustration trying to help someone you care about? To what would you attribute that frustration?


About Grose

Gordon Grose loves most to write, speak, and preach on the message of hope from the book of Job. Using drama, video, and PowerPoint, he has preached and presented this message of hope to churches around the country. Grose pastored three congregations 25 years, then served 12 years as a pastoral counselor in a Portland, Oregon counseling clinic. He now serves with Good Samaritan Counseling Services, Beaverton, OR. A graduate of Wheaton College (IL), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Brandeis University, and Boston University, he comes from a rich and varied background in theological and counseling training. In 2015, Gordon published Tragedy Transformed: How Job's Recovery Can Provide Hope For Yours, a book about turning to Job for hope after tragedy. If you have experienced life challenges or personal tragedy, visit his Transforming Tragedy ( blog to learn more. provides a sample of Gordon's speaking as well as an opportunity to purchase copies of his book.
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