How To Comfort Someone In Mourning
This is an area that many find difficult to handle. I've been there a few times with family passing away and I found many who say the same things “Heaven gained another angel”, “That person has no more pain now”, etc. I know people mean good will towards someone in any situation like this. However, it just seems like empty words. I'm not trying to upset anyone but the truth of the matter is we tend to say the same things when people pass away. It just seems to get monotonous after a while.
When my wife's grandpa passed away it hit her like a ton of bricks. He was a great man. One of my favorite people to see. Even though me and him didn't talk much we still had this connection. As several days passed, the funeral was done, the burial was done. I was constantly seeing flashbacks of all the times me and him talked and laughed together. I couldn't help but constantly think of my wife at the same time and wondering what I could do. I was left with a single question “How can I comfort my wife in this troubling time?”
I gave her all that I could give and still on the inside I felt like I could've done more. Many people will make dinners and bring it to the family who has had a loved one pass on, others will sit side by side and just be caring company, others will send prayers and encouragement in sad times. These are all great things and I commend people for doing them. But, the question inside me loomed. As I came up to this 100th devotional I wanted to do something grand. I had a super great message planned and wrote out. But as I sat at work night after night I just couldn't hit publish. I started to look at other messages I had that were finished, I looked at projects that were at least half way done, I looked at projects that at least had the title to them or a verse starting point. All of these just didn't feel right. So, I began searching for other subjects, and passages. Each time hitting that same feeling.
Then grandpa Jose popped into my mind, and then my aunts, and my great grandma. Then the question started to form, how can someone comfort a person who mourns?
There are several ways to comfort a person in mourning but I want to look at three that I think are very important and in need of serious attention.
1. A CRY OF VICTORY
VERSE PASSAGE: 1 Peter 1:3-6 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” - NIV
Peter was writing to friends who were facing great suffering that appeared to have no end in sight. Yet, notice that he didn’t start his letter with sympathy. Peter boldly cries out blessings in the name of Christ, and reminds his readers of the living hope. This may seem insensitive to us, and even to the point of offending some, because Peter didn't even acknowledge their pain until the very end. Even at the end of this passage it's still impersonal, but this move is very intentional and very important. By proclaiming victory in God, he is raising the eyes of his readers from the trials of life that so easily ensnare, and force them to look up to a God who is bigger than any suffering we have to endure in this life. However, Peter doesn’t minimize their pain by saying it isn’t significant, or that it is trivial, rather, he tries to give his readers a glimpse of eternity, and calls them to worship the Lord even through a troubling situation.
I have found that there is a lack of victory cries. We proclaim “a better place”, “no more pain”. But I've found there to be a lack of bold proclamations. We need to know and show others that even in their pain and suffering we should be bold and stand on a victory. We should worship God in all situations. We should look to Him as He is God, He is the greatest comforter there ever will be.
2. FUTURE GLORY SHOULD OUTWEIGH PRESENT SUFFERING
VERSE PASSAGE: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” - NIV
Now, I wouldn't advise telling a grieving person that their affliction or grief is “light,” but the principle here is important to understand. Peter is saying that any turmoil we suffer, any agony and grief we endure, be it for a day or for our whole lives, will be nothing, in comparison to the great joy of spending eternity with God. Not only is our current suffering far outweighed by the future glory of God, but God is using this trial right now to prepare us for eternity. God is actively using this suffering to draw you closer, to purify, and to teach.
Suffering is not a punishment brought upon us by God. However, it is an opportunity that we must grasp ahold of.
I have found a lack of this point as well. Many do not point to future glory, many do not call for others to fix their eyes on Jesus in such a troubling time in a vigorous way. Some may say “give it to Jesus”, “look to Him”, but I have not found a deep and passionate call to look to the future glory, and to fix our eyes on Him. When we fix our eyes on Him we are basically putting our eyes to Him and keeping them there no matter what's going on in our life. Yet, I can't recall the last time I heard this kind of talk to a person in mourning.
3. LIVE WORTHY OF THE STRUGGLE
VERSE PASAGE: James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” - NIV
VERSE PASSAGE: James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” - NIV
Finally, when talking to a friend or family member experiencing a deep hurt, remind them that the struggle is worth it. This is not to sound insensitive either. But, this is so that we may become more like Christ. Encourage them to learn from the pain, and to continue to walk in a manor worthy of our calling. One of the greatest pieces of advice I wished someone would have told me was “Don’t waste this suffering.” Understand that in all of His sovereignty, God chose to have you here, going through this, at this time. There is for a purpose. There is reasons beyond our own understanding. Some of the greatest peaks in my spiritual life came after intense spiritual warfare or hard trials.
All the funerals I've been to, all the people I know who had someone pass away. I have found almost a complete lack of this point. A trial wasted. We are on a path. God knows what is coming. He knows what we will face. Yet, I've found many to waste a trial. I'm not saying that we shouldn't mourn or be disrespectful to those who mourn. But we need to understand that God already knew this was going to happen and this is an opportunity for us to learn something, and grow from.
Next time God places you in the life of someone who is hurting, remember to glorify God, not the trial, turn their eyes towards eternity, and remind them that the struggle is making them more like Christ.
God bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ.
• 1 Peter 1:3-6
• 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
• James 1:2-4
• James 1:12
Copyright © 2017 by Jacob D. Olinger