Grief is a fierce battle that no one should face alone. It is a battle that is often unprovoked and finds us unprepared for its magnitude, longevity and fatigue. We need help and God has called His people to be the soldiers that fight with others in the battle.
“Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I love the picture of God as the Compassionate Father. A loving Father who understands the broken heart.
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17
A “Daddy God” who wrap us in His embrace and wipes our tears.
A sympathetic Father who binds our wounds and stores our tears to use as a mortar to bind the pieces of our scarred broken heart together again.
“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Psalm 56:8
Our Compassionate Father wants us to find peace, comfort and healing in Him,
Jehovah Rapha – the Lord our Healer!
He has given us an example of pouring Himself out, and lovingly bearing burdens that were not His own. We will never match His sacrifice, but He has given us the privilege of following His example in bearing one another’s burdens.
Perhaps the chaos and confusion of grief has left the broken-hearted questioning God and unable to find solace in their once secure, faith-driven life. They need to see Jesus right now, face-to-face on earth, through us. We must be His hands and feet and He has equipped us to do so. The verse in 2 Corinthians tells us that not only has God comforted us, but that we have a surplus. God’s comfort does not stop with us. He gives us an “overflow”, more than we need, so that we can pour it into the lives of others.
We cannot “fix” them by taking away the agony and pain, but we can put on the armor of God and join them in the battle. We can help carry their burdens and offer to be a healer of sorts. How?
Kenneth C Haugk offers some advice in Book 3 of his Journeying through Grief series. He uses an acronym. Healing people are:
H – Here for you when you need them.
E – Empathetic. People with empathy will do their best to understand and to let some of your pain touch them.
A – Accepting. They don’t judge you, try to change you, or tell you what you should do or how you should think or feel.
L – Listening. They really focus on what you have to say. They let you share your feelings and know how important it is for you to tell your story again and again.
So what does this look like in everyday life? The comfort that Paul speaks of in this scripture is not a feeble feeling of contentment, nor a numbing dose of grace that only dulls the pain, but it is a stiffening agent that fortifies the heart for battle. It relates to encouragement and help.
Be the “H” that is here for them. – Be willing to make time for them. Take care of their physical needs by offering practical help. Offer to go to the grocery store, mow their yard, babysit, run errands. Send them cards and occasional texts. Church can be particularly hard for those who are grieving. Offer to sit with them. Pray for them daily. Most of all, realize that the battle of grief is more than just a skirmish. It is a lifelong war. Don’t try to rush them. Grief has its own calendar. Offer yourself long past the funeral and the first year.
Be the “E” that is empathetic. You can never truly understand what the grieving person is going through. The grieving process is as individual as a fingerprint. “Grief is universal. At the same time it is extremely personal.” – Earl A. Grollman, Living When a Loved One Has Died. Follow their lead in what to say and when to say it. While platitudes are often spoken out of a well-meaning heart, you cannot be sure how the individual will receive them. Grief.com has a post titled 10 Best and Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief:
The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in anyway I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
6. I am always just a phone call away
7. Give a hug instead of saying something
8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
10. Saying nothing, just be with the person
The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief
1. At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go
10. Be strong
Be the “A” that is accepting. Everyone needs a place where they do not have to worry about putting on a fake smile, or holding back the tears and being cheerful. They need someone who doesn’t judge the way they grieve or even offer advice. They just need a place to be themselves, and know that they are not fighting the battle all alone.
Be the “L” that listens. This one is so important. So many times we think we have to have the right answers. We want to fill the gaps in the silence. Understand that sometimes words don’t help. All you need to do is listen with compassion. Once again, follow their lead. If they want your advice, they will ask for it. Allow them tell the stories over and over. Hold them when they cry. Cry with them. Talking is healing. It allows them to release some of the pain with each telling of their story.
Scripture offers another beautiful example of being hands of Christ in battle. In Exodus 17:8-16 God has successfully brought the unappreciative Israelites out of their wilderness experience under the leadership of Moses. They find themselves blindsided by an unprovoked battle with the wicked descendants of Esau, the Amalekites. This wasn’t a battle the Israelites could win on their own against such hostile heathens. As Joshua led the fight, Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. Moses elevated the staff of God which had signified God’s power throughout the dessert wandering.
“As long as Moses held up his hands the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tied, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Exodus 17:11-13
God provided the victory over the battle, but he literally used Aaron and Hur as His hands to support his weary servant, Moses.
Are you willing to help in the battle? Will you be a supporting hand for those weary with the battle fatigue of grief? Will you use the overflow of God’s comfort for you to help comfort others?
There is a light
in the world, a healing spirit,
more powerful than any darkness
we may encounter.
We sometimes lose
sight of this force,
when there is so much suffering,
too much pain.
the spirit will emerge
through the lives of
ordinary people who care
and answer in