As followers of Christ, when people are hurting, we want to encourage them and comfort them. We long for words that will lessen their pain.
Last Monday. I spoke to a mom who needed to reschedule a dental appointment. She apologized for not having her daughter at the office at the previously scheduled time. It had been difficult lately for her to get to appointments.
She said she had usually been on her game but the family had been going through some things. I asked if she had anyone else who could bring her.
"No," was the answer. Mom had lost both of her parents during the last year and a half. Her in-laws could not bring her because they were caring for their daughter who had brain cancer. This mom was also having a bad bout with MS. And the girl’s father works out of state.
“I am so very sorry,” I told her.
We scheduled a new dental appointment hoping things would be better in a few weeks. I got off the phone and cried.
Life can be so hard sometimes. It really can seem like the mountains are crumbling into the seas (Psalm 46:2).
I texted her that I would be praying for her and asked if I could send her Bible verses each week. “Yes!” was her answer.
I wanted to send her a verse right then, but which one? Joshua 1:9 is my go-to: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” She did need strength and courage.
Romans 8:28 came to mind. God will use this for good, but today she doesn’t feel like any good is coming.
What was that verse about being broken-hearted?
Three days later, the unimaginable happened a block from our workplace: a mass shooting that left three police officers dead and many wounded.
We pray for the families. We pray for the injured. We pray for those involved, for the community leaders.
In times like these, believers want to ease the pain, share words of comfort. Seeking the right words, we may try to make sense of the senseless. We may attempt to explain the unexplainable with utterances of God’s will, living in a fallen world, or even that God will use it for good.
Over the years, I have found the best thing is to be present - if possible - and just say, “I’m so very sorry.” And then keep praying.
God WILL bring good. He WILL comfort. But today, it is just so hard: Wives have lost husbands, and children have lost fathers. Families have been changed forever.
Psalm 46:1-3: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at email@example.com.
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