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If you live long enough, you will not only experience pain yourself, but you will see others experience pain. So how do we minister to people who are struggling and agonizing deeply in their lives?

Don’t Be Cliche

When someone loses a loved one, don’t say things like “well, they got their wings.” First, this is cheesy, and second, it is not true. Do not be “pat” in your answers by saying things like, “God works all things out for the good of those who love him.” Although this can be a comforting verse, it often becomes something we throw out when we don’t know what else to say. We can inadvertently belittle what they are going through with our words, even if that is not our intention.

Avoid Trying to Sound Profound

Focus more on being a profound listener than trying to be profound in what you say. Have an empathetic style of listening that is non-judgmental. Don’t underestimate the power and comfort of presence. They may not be looking for a solution, but rather need someone to be with them while they are in pain.

Remember: It Is Not Something We Do Just Once

Comforting a person in pain requires that we journey with that person through that difficult time.  It does not mean that you sit with them and comfort them once, then consider that they are completely healed. You need to walk with this person and keep demonstrating the power of presence. They may question the authenticity of your love if the only care you provide is an initial action, but repeated intentionality can strengthen and impact your relationship with them far greater than you would think possible in the midst of tragedy.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What did people do that helped you during a time of grief? What do you wish people had not done?
  4. What symptoms of grief have you observed in people? Can you empathize with any of those symptoms?
  5. Read Romans 12:15. What does it mean to weep with those who weep?
  6. Why is it a bad idea to encourage grieving people to “Just buck up” or “Keep looking on the bright side”?
  7. Read Luke 19:41-42. Why did Jesus weep? What does his example tell us about grief?
  8. Why should you be cautious about offering words of comfort or advice when a person is grieving?
  9. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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