I wrote this weeks before this blog was ready. I post it now as an example of how it feels to be unprepared to comfort a friend in need.
I wasn’t ready. Just this morning I received news that the son of an acquaintance suddenly died. I know no details. My heart is heavy as I go about my normal morning routine, for I know these parents are not doing the same. Their day has exploded by trauma and their lives will never be the same. My stomach knots and turns sour at the thought of their agony and grief. I wished so badly that I had my blog site up and running so I could offer it as a gateway to walk the grief path alongside me, a fellow traveler. BUT I WASN’T READY YET.
You might be a friend of someone in the hell of grief and you don’t feel ready to help them either. Death does not come conveniently. As friends to those who mourn, we might be tempted to react with despair and abandon any effort to reach out to others in pain. Sometimes we find the courage to move past the barricade of unpreparedness and we make the effort to do what we can for the grieving. We step up to the plate and feel with them. And this is what I need to remind myself, I need to come alongside my friends and feel their pain with them.
Time doesn’t heal ~ God does
Have you ever tried to console a deeply hurting friend by reminding them that “time would bring healing?” With all good intention, the phrase sounds nice, but it may be less comforting than hoped for. Time does work to dull, or dim the intensity of many of life’s experiences. Memories fade in time. The intense feelings lose their edge. But does that indicate that healing has taken place? Probably not. You see, what I have learned is that God is the Healer of our brokenness, not time. I have noticed that God uses the medium of time as part of his therapeutic protocol. But it isn’t the time that heals. I have come to realize that no amount of time left to my own pain can do the healing work. You and I are free moral agents. That means we can choose what we do with the 24 hours given to us each day. Left to our own pain, we could choose a life of denial to hide from the pain, substance abuse to soothe the ache, anger to manage control, or any other destructive behaviors. So what are we to conclude about how time and grief interact?
When we come along a grieving friend or family member, it would be better for us to encourage them with the faithfulness of God to bring His healing. God understands. God cares. God knows how to reach them in their points of desperation. God is committed to bring beauty from their ashes of pain and grief. He is planning a future and a hope for them. But it is still God who does all this in His time. Not ours! We may, at times feel tired of someone else’s pain. But God doesn’t So as supporters to the bereaved, let us not be weary in reaching out to them. Let us keep in mind that God is working to bring them the healing they need, not to relieve us from their sorrow. The God makes this claim, “He makes all things beautiful in its time.” Eccl. 3:11