A woman has a miscarriage. A middle-aged man is laid off at work. A family’s house burns. Parents lose a teenage son to suicide. A child is diagnosed with cancer. A surviving spouse must now go on without the other.
Responding to loss
A common response to the suffering of people we know is to do nothing—not because we don’t care, but because we just don’t know what to say or do.
When Job’s friends came after he suffered the triple loss of his children, wealth, and health, they may have meant well but succeeded only in adding to his grief by their ill-chosen words. “Sorry comforters” is what Job called them (Job 16:2).
How can we effectively show concern—especially when we haven’t experienced what others are suffering?
For starters, we can educate ourselves on what is and what is not helpful to say to someone in distress. Here’s an example of such a resource: https://www.healyourlife.com/10-best-things-to-say-to-someone-in-grief.
How best to help
In marked contrast to Job’s so-called friends, Jonathan was a great encouragement to David during a dark time in his life. Jonathan found his friend and wept with him (1 Samuel 20:31-42; 23:15-16).
Many years later David was again on the run. Barzillai along with others brought bedding and abundant food supplies for David and those with him—“for they said, ‘The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness’” (2 Samuel 17:27-29).
When Paul was imprisoned in Rome, he so appreciated the loyal support of his friend Onesiphorus, who “often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains; but when he was in Rome, he eagerly searched for me and found me” (2 Timothy 1:16-17).
Many of us know what it’s like to be on the receiving end when friends show up with a hug, a kind word, a listening ear, a prayer, a gift of food—and who even run errands for us and help with household chores.
Knowing the comfort others have been to us in our own time of need, how then can we pass along the kindness the next time we learn of a loss?
With so many hurting people around us, we shouldn’t lack for an opportunity!
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/
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