In the last ten days two friends have tragically and without warning lost their husbands. Like everyone who knows these families, I am broken, confused and hurting. I want to help, but I need to give them the space they have rightfully and understandably asked for. But how do we walk through this with them? What can we “do” and how can we really help? And where is God in this?
- Look Outward. I can get so overwhelmed by my sadness, inability to reconcile what’s happened and desire for answers that my focus can turn inward. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I must prayerfully, selflessly and intentionally focus on what our friends’ need and less on my own pain for them.
- Really Pray. When we say, “All we can do now is pray,” there’s a sense it’s not enough enough. If I’m honest sometimes I don’t pray more because deep down I don’t believe my prayers matter. So why pray? 1) Obedience. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, “…far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.” Prayer has as more to do with obedience to and dependency on Christ than whether I see, believe or feel it matters. 2) If Jesus prayed when he was most broken and hurting, it probably behooves me to do likewise. 3) I’ve seen prayer work in mysterious, untimely and unusual ways, but I’ve never seen prayer work when I’ve failed to pray in the first place.
- Ask Hard Questions. Although my friends’ loss isn’t about me, I have to reconcile what I really believe about God in this if I’m going to remain strong and prayerful for them. I went to Psalms desperately looking for answers and read, “’Because he loves me’, says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him…’” Our friends weren’t ‘rescued’ (by my understanding of the word, anyway).They’re suffering and they love God. So where is He in this? I’m not completely sure, but after crying, reading the Bible and asking the Lord, I do know this. Without God, tragedy is just that; an awful, unfair and utter disaster. With God, if nothing else, I have hope. Hope we’ll see our loved ones again. Hope God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I don’t know what that looks like or how it’ll manifest itself, but I know if we didn’t have God’s hope for our friends right now, it would be too much.
- Pray God’s Word. I asked God for a verse to pray for my friends and He led me to Lamentations: “Though he brings grief, He will show compassion; so great is his unfailing love.” I’m going to pray without ceasing for God’s compassion and unfailing love for these families and I’m going to trust He’s going to somehow do that. And although we will continue to cry and hurt for our friends, we will not mourn like those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13).