When people around you are mourning, it’s often hard to know what to do. If you’re an introverted individual, the idea of walking up to someone who is facing the loss of a loved one, a terminal diagnosis, or another hard time can seem daunting. However, the Bible says that God’s people are called to comfort those who are mourning. If you’re not sure how to do that, keep reading!
As a child of God, one of the most powerful opportunities that you have to minister to others doesn’t include standing behind a pulpit and delivering the Gospel on a Sunday morning. It doesn’t even include playing guitar, piano, or another instrument on your church’s praise and worship team. This type of ministry doesn’t involve giving of yourself and your time to volunteer at a local foodbank or soup kitchen. Instead, the kind of ministry that we’re going to discuss today involves a one-on-one conversation, sometimes multiple conversations, with someone who is facing the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, or another hard time.
Being a comfort to a friend, family member, or coworker is arguably the most powerful form of ministry that we can ever take part in. When someone in your circle loses a spouse, a child, a parent, another family member, or a friend, you are called by God to rush to their side and offer comfort.
If you’re an introverted person by nature, that idea may seem intimidating. Is there really anything that you can say that will comfort someone who just buried a loved one? Are there really any words that you can offer to someone who just received a terminal diagnosis from their doctor? Can you do anything for someone who just received word that they have lost their job and they now have to figure out how to pay the bills next week?
Yes, you can! As a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit is actively at work in your life. He ministers to you in your times of grief, not only to comfort you, but so that you can serve as a comfort to the people that you interact with who are hurting. If you’re not sure where to start, allow these Biblical principles to guide you in your quest to be a comfort to those who are hurting.
John 11:34-37 (TPT)
He said to them, “Where did you bury him?” “Lord, come with us and we’ll show you,” they replied. Then tears streamed down Jesus’ face. Seeing Jesus weep caused many of the mourners to say, “Look how much he loved Lazarus.” Yet others said, “Isn’t this the One who opens blind eyes? Why didn’t he do something to keep Lazarus from dying?”
At its very core, grief is a great sadness that we feel after we’ve experienced a loss. You probably don’t have to look very far within your own life to remember a time where you were grieving. Perhaps you’ve lost someone close to you, experienced the pain of a divorce, lost a job, or had a long-term friendship dissipate. Obviously, when we think about grief, we often think of death, but there are certainly other times in life where we’re forced into the unwanted pain of a grieving process.
Since grief is a part of the human experience, no one is exempt. Grief is no respecter of persons and is just as likely to strike the most powerful, wealthy individual as it is the person who struggles to find shelter. If you’ve never experienced grief, you’re forced to face the fact that at some point, it will confront you.
No one wants to face the pain of grief, but we know that at some point, everyone will. Psychologists and other medical professionals have published countless studies on the impact of grief and the process that each person goes through in their own way.
We can be comforted in our times of grief because we understand that even Christ went through it. In the verses we just read, Christ arrived at the home of His friend, Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus back to life, He experienced the pain of grief in that moment. Why did he grieve? So He could comfort us in our grief, and so that we could more effectively comfort others who are grieving in their own right.
Avoid Comparing Grief
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will list up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
As we alluded to earlier, there is a grieving process. Most mental health professionals ascribe to the idea that there are seven stages of grief. However, the order that people go through those stages varies from one person to the next. Additionally, the way that any individual handles each phase of the grieving process is unique to them.
With that in mind, one of the most important aspects of comforting someone who is grieving is to avoid comparing your grief to theirs. It’s not uncommon for well-meaning people to look at someone who is grieving and say, “I know what you’re going through.” This statement almost always comes from a place of good intentions, but it actually does very little to comfort the person who is presently facing pain.
When we see someone who is grieving, we often try to take some steps to help them get their minds off their grief. Instead of taking this approach, understand that their grief is unique to them and their situation.
If the person asks you how you dealt with the loss of someone close to them, that’s the opportunity to share your own stories.
Remember, You Are Not Alone
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of comforting someone else who is grieving is to remember that you are not comforting them on your own. Paul spoke of the numerous kinds of pain that he had experienced in his own life and testified to the fact that he didn’t face any of them alone. Instead, in his moments of immense pain, God was with him.
If you’re not sure of your own ability to comfort someone who is grieving, take heart, you aren’t doing this by yourself. As a child of God, you know that the Holy Spirit lives inside you (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). That means that when you go to someone who is hurting, you’re actually carrying the presence of God to them.
The opportunity to comfort others is one of our greatest opportunities to show the love of God to people in our lives. It’s easy to stand at someone’s side when everything is going great, but when painful moments come and grief is the closest thing to them, that’s when they need you the most. Stand beside those who are grieving. Take some time to really consider the grieving process and what grief means for each individual. Don’t rush to make comparisons between your grief and the grief of the person that you’re comforting. Finally, allow the Holy Spirit to use you as a vessel to carry His presence to those who need it the most.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to serve You through offering comfort to others who are facing the most painful, difficult seasons of their lives. I know that You understand grief because You have experienced it. Give me the words that I need and the love that the person I’m comforting needs. In Christ’s name, Amen.