“I’m cold,” I told my husband.
A “fixer,” he immediately rose from his comfortable recliner and turned up the heat.
“I could have done that,” I said. “I just wanted you to know how I felt.”
Too often, we approach our suffering Christian friends in much the same manner.
We seek the quick fix.
Instead of needed comfort, our well-meant grief control merely fuels the pain.
Perhaps, the vulnerability of others makes us uncertain and ineffectual during another’s trial. Most often there are no words that can erase the sting. All too often, the Christian feels a responsibility to heap volumes of scripture references and philosophical wisdoms. And we are amazed that our efforts don’t bring immediate relief. The grieving person doesn’t need a lecture. A caring squeeze provides more comfort than the most erudite condolence.
Job’s friends believed grief and pain were directly associated to sin. And so their “comfort” was nothing more than long-winded assaults against Job’s character. Within their well-intentioned summations, they advised Job that his suffering would end when he got right with God. And so what was intended to enlighten proved to be mere prickly barbs to an already pierced heart.
The grief process is not formulaic. What may seem like a sprinkle of sorrow to one might be a deluge to another. Knowing that someone else might have suffered more greatly does little to ease the immediate pain. Grief needs to be expressed not repressed.
During seasons of intense emotional struggle, the human mind is not ready to process the added weight of blame. Nor is the spirit ready to process explanation or exposition. Purpose is more often seen in retrospect rather than in throes of distress.
“For all our faith… for all our joy (in the knowledge we will see them again)… the pain of a loss like this is deep and real and far-reaching and long-lasting.”
The Holy Spirit hears and interprets our senseless groans and mutterings. God’s healing is not dependent upon our ability to rationalize the loss. While prayer for our suffering friend is extended, perhaps the Christian’s best human comfort is found in closed lips and open ears.
“Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20 NIV).