Within the span of an hour, I learned that two sisters-in-Christ lost loved ones this morning.
One friend lost her 10-month-old daughter. Braelyn was born prematurely and with Downs syndrome. For most of the last year, their small family has lived in the hospital, praying for one more breath, afraid to hope. Protracted sorrow took a toll on their marriage. Finding peace, hope and a new normalcy will take time and healing only God can offer.
The other friend lost her mother. For quite some time now, my friend has tended to the woman who once nurtured her. Watching her mother fade was difficult–nights were long, cheeks damp, the certain future near. This morning, my friend emailed saying, “It was very peaceful, but still very hard for us.”
Those of us who know Christ as Savior have hope beyond imagination, beyond circumstances, hope that transcends logic and loss.
1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14 and 18 say, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. … Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
I am constantly amazed by the comprehensiveness of God’s Word, by its intimate ability to meet us where we are and minister peace. But it’s not always wise to instantly begin quoting Bible verses to those who are mourning. In fact, in Proverbs, the Lord even warns about the danger lurking in an abundance of words. In these difficult situations, when words escape, it’s best to allow Scripture to inform our thoughts and actions.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;” (2 Corinthians 1:3).
St. Teresa of Avila, known for ministering to those in the direst of circumstances, expressed God’s heart for Christians as they reach out into the suffering around them:
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which to look out Christ’s compassion to the world Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”
In moments of sorrow, let your words be few. Let the Word of God inform instead your hands and heart; Let your hands and feet convey empathy and hope.
How do you offer comfort and hope to others in times of grief? How have you been comforted?