Life has been unreasonably hard for my family as of late. We have had some of our family head home to be with Jesus, who loved them so. I am a verbal processor, so part of this is me working through that sadness and loss. Also, having been on the other side of loss and having to comfort another, I have learned a few things.
As Christians, we tend to want to put a spiritual twist on everything. Outside of grief, the statement, “God has a plan,” and “It’s for the best,” and “They’re with Jesus now,” sound perfectly reasonable and kind. Those phrases come so easily to someone who is not in the pain of loss. To a grieving mother, child, friend, or loved one, those phrases can hurt more than we know. These “kind” phrases elicit such thoughts as, “How could this be part of God’s plan?” and “It’s best for whom?” and “That’s nice and all, but I’d rather my loved one be right here, in my arms.”
Even Jesus felt the sting of loss and pain. Losing his dear friend Lazarus broke his heart. He wept, bitterly. And, unlike us, he could do something about it. He could, and did, bring Lazarus back, but even having that power didn’t stop the loss from piercing his heart.
I don’t know about anyone else, but the most helpful phrase to hear when I’m going through loss is, “That’s terrible. I don’t know what to say. I’m praying for you.” Sometimes silence is helpful, especially when accompanied by a hug, a squeeze of the hand, or an arm around the shoulder.
It’s times like these that I’m forced to face the fact of mortality, but also remember that Jesus’ ultimate goal is to destroy death. He will ultimately destroy death, disease, and pain, along with their cause: sin. When that day comes, our tears will be dried and our hearts comforted.
Until then, we’ll have to struggle along in a broken world where we grieve, hurt, and ache. We’ll have to lean on one another and prop one another up, as Jesus taught us to do. Model gentleness and thoughtfulness to your friends and family, remind hurting people that you are there, that God is there, and that it’s OK to hurt and feel sadness.
How have you been approached when you experienced loss? Was it helpful?