08 Jan 5 Uplifting Things to Say when Someone’s Hurting
This week in our services, Ben began a sermon series from the book of Job called “When God Disappoints”, dealing with the issue of suffering in human life. Human beings can be godly and grief-stricken at the same time. It is not a lack of faith to be sorrowful to the point of death. It is not weak Christianity to demonstrably express deep disappointment with life.
Well-meaning Christians attend funerals and offer trivial words to the grief-stricken. They say words that are theologically precise, and practically wrong. To a mother who lost her son in a car accident, a neighbor might say, “He’s in a better place.” The neighbor intends to encourage, but only cuts deeper. Theologian John Calvin once wrote:
Some comforters have but one song to sing, and they have no regard to whom they sing it. – John Calvin
As we go along in this series, you will meet three sincere friends of Job, who come to town to comfort him, but sing the wrong song. They say the wrong things, and they add to his grief. A part of Christian maturity is the realization that I cannot heal a person’s broken heart, but I can stop myself from shattering it more. Only God can heal a broken heart.
Here are five things to say to someone who has endured a great loss:
- I’m so sorry.
Simply acknowledge the tragedy, and express that you are hurting for them. This is helpful to the suffering.
- Could I bring food to your house?
They will probably say no, but drop it off anyway. For the “doers”, this is a practical way to serve someone in grief.
- Do you want to talk about it?
When a person suffers loss, they can feel smothered by company. People in grief often want to be alone for awhile, to weep and rest and recover. Offer to keep them company, offer a listening ear, but don’t assume they want you to stay for long periods of time.
- Know that I’m here for you, for the long haul.
People have a way of moving on quickly, and a person in grief will need faithful friends as the new “normal” sets in. Reassuring a person of your friendship in thick and thin is an enormous help. Consider checking in regularly once others have stopped.
- How are you feeling?
A good friend will allow you to deal with grief in your individual way. They won’t tell you how to feel, but will explore your feelings and be a listening ear, a place to vent.
The next time you encounter a friend who is hurting try one of these words of encouragement. You might find it was just the right word at the right time!