Hurting with Those in a World of Hurt
Bible Reading: Romans 12:14-16
When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow—Romans 12:15.
The phone riging in the middle of the night jarred the young pastor awake. “Pastor, our daughter…” the voice on the phone choked. “She was in a bad car accident tonight. She’s in surgery and… we’re not sure… she’ll make it.”
The pastor dressed quickly and hurried to the hospital, praying all the way. When he arrived, tear-streaked faces told the story. The girl had died in surgery. He tried to say something to the parents, but he couldn’t get the words out. He just sat and sobbed with the heartbroken mom and dad.
Not much later the girl’s parents moved away, and the young pastor didn’t see them for several years. When the pastor ran into them at a conference, he fumbled for words. “I have an apology to make,” he finally said. “The night your daughter died, I failed you. I should have read Scripture to you and offered you words of hope. But I didn’t. I just cried. I’m so sorry I let you down that night.”
“You didn’t let us down, Pastor,” the girl’s dad said. “What you did brought us great comfort. You felt our hurt and cried with us. You shared more than words with us; you shared your heart. And we will always be grateful.”
Deep lesson: The pastor thought he failed. But what he actually did was show the kind of deep sympathy Jesus showed.
If people slam into sorrow or disappointment, the first thing they need is someone who feels their pain. When his friend Lazarus died (see John 11), Jesus cried with Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha. Why didn’t Jesus just say, “Don’t cry, ladies. Give me a few minutes and I’ll have Lazarus back from the dead”? Because at that exact moment what they needed was someone to cry with them. So Jesus did. Later he performed the miracle that turned their sorrow to joy.
If you have family members and friends who hurt, the greatest gift you can give is to sorrow with them. Comfort isn’t a pep talk nudging someone to “hang in there.” Comfort isn’t trying to explain why bad things happen. Comfort isn’t just saying that God is in control and everything will be okay. Those things might be helpful later, but they don’t deliver what people need most: comfort.
People walloped by hurt find comfort when they know they aren’t suffering alone. So when a friend is crushed with sorrow or disappointment, feel crushed too. And it’s okay to say something like, ”I’m so sad for you” or, “I hurt for you” or, ”I’m sorry you are hurting.” It’s what Jesus would do.
REFLECT: What does comfort look like when you show it to hurting friends?
PRAY: Pray for your friends who need God’s help-and ask God to use you to comfort them.
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