Welcome to the Bible Reading Podcast! (Encourage Sharing on SM/Reviews, etc) Today's readings include Exodus Chapter 1 - which means we have completed the entire book of Genesis together - Go team! Sadly for the Israelites (in the short term!), Exodus opens with this ominous bit of foreshadowing in chapter 1, vs. 8, " A new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt." In Luke 4, we will see how Jesus overcomes the attacks of Satan in the desert by the expert use of the Sword of the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 5 is all about church discipline, a biblical practice that is sadly neglected in many of our churches. Our focus remains in Job today, and we will be reading chapters 17 and 18, and asking the question how can we help and encourage the hurting and suffering. As I mentioned yesterday, part of what I’m sharing below is from my first book, Unshackled: Facing Suffering With the Real Jesus (and Not the Shack, or Pop-Culture Christianity,) which holds the Guinness book of World records for longest book by an unknown author.
I have been in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years, and in that time have ministered to dozens of families who are mourning the death of those nearest to them. Some of the deaths are more…bearable (?) than others, if death can be in any way bearable at all. I’ve done the funeral for a lovely World War 2 veteran of D-Day who had been married to his wife for roughly 70 years. That was hard, and I am sure it still is for his surviving wife - I cannot imagine being separated from my wife of 20 years - how much more difficult must it be to be separated from a spouse of 70?! This funeral was sad - with much tears and grieving, but also was celebratory - rejoicing in a faithful marriage of almost 70 years, and celebrating the life of a remarkable man who had lived a long and amazing life.
Some of the funerals I have done are nothing but grieving, mourning, tears, tragedy and incredible sadness. Many years ago, while still a young, greenhorn youth minister, I was summoned to the hospital one night due to a wreck involving one of our youth. I will never forget that night - sitting next to this young man’s mom and dad, as we awaited news in the waiting room. When the surgeon walked in, he had a grim look on his face, and very coldly and callously told this young man’s parents that he had died on the operating table. Though that night was twenty years ago, I can still clearly hear the gut-shredding wail of his mom in my mind, and the look on her face as she mourned the death of her only child. Heartbreaking. Words failed that night. And the surgeon's communication and lack of compassion only added to the misery. (Though I am quite sure he tried his best!)
Another funeral involved a family that I did not know at all - but our church had helped them with food previously, and thus they asked our church to provide a pastor for the funeral. In this particular tragedy, a very young married couple had a lovely baby that was killed one night when the husband got either drunk or stoned (or both) and inadvertently rolled over on the baby that they were co-sleeping with, and smothered him. Both the husband and the wife were at the funeral, as was their family - and they wanted me to share words of comfort and hope into what seemed for all the world like a hopeless situation.
What do we say in situations like these? Maybe you’ve never faced a scenario like the above, and maybe you aren’t in ministry….but I guarantee that you will, multiple times in your life, be the friend or family member of somebody who has lost a loved one to death…and they will look to you for support, love, help and comfort. How do you handle that? What can you say to make things better? Well - here’s the thing to remember that is very important: IT IS LIKELY THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE THE POWER IN THAT MOMENT TO MAKE THINGS BETTER. And when we try to make things better, we end up saying things that are factually untrue, or are meaninglessly cliche and in doing so, it is possible that we can make things worse! Let's read our Job passages, and then come back and discuss what we should not say to those who are suffering.
Here are five things that I have heard people actually say to those who are grieving, and a brief word on why to NEVER say these things:Top Five Worst Things to Say to Those Who Have Lost a Loved One
So - those are some phrases that really should be avoided. In fact - the whole idea that we can share a sentence or two with somebody and actually help/comfort them is an idea which, with perhaps rare exceptions, should be avoided. Grieving with those who grieve rarely involves the sharing of a pithy saying or two. Rather, grieving with those who grieve far more often involves walking beside them, listening to them, praying for them, crying with them and just simply being there. Those who are suffering don’t often need a sentence or two saying to feel better. They need something far deeper than that. On tomorrow's episode #50, we will cover some helpful things to say to those who are suffering, and some helpful ways to say those things. Hope you can join us then! For now, I will close with this great quote from Nancy Guthrie's article on comforting those who are grieving:
But here’s the truth. When you’ve gone through the loss of a loved one, it’s almost as if there is a barrier put up between you and every person in your world. And it’s not until that person acknowledges your loss that that barrier comes down. And it doesn’t have to be anything brilliant.
And sometimes it can even be wordless. I can think of times when I was going through grief when someone just came next to me and squeezed my hand or gave me even a knowing look, with that sense of, “I know what’s going on, and I’m sad and I’m in a sense speechless.”|
And then one of the really beautiful things some people did was actually weep in my presence. And I know that sounds awkward for some people — I think especially men. I know for my husband, he wouldn’t say, “Wow, I was really hoping people would come and cry with me.” That wasn’t the form his grief took.
But for many of us, when you’re carrying this huge load of sorrow and you look up, and you see someone who is shedding tears — that they are so identifying with your loss that they are in a sense carrying some of the load of sorrow for you — that’s an incredible gift to give to someone who’s grieving.
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