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?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m learning a few things about what I can do while I sit by doing seemingly nothing:
  • Don’t be consumed. I can get so overwhelmed by my sadness, inability to reconcile what has happened and desire for answers that my focus can turn inward. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I must choose to 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 is a sense that isn’t enough. If I’m honest sometimes I don’t pray more because deep down, subconsciously, I don’t really believe my prayers will matter. So why do I continue to 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 have seen prayer work in mysterious, untimely and unusual ways, but I’ve never seen prayer work when I’ve failed to ask in the first place. 
  • Ask Hard Questions. Although my friends’ loss isn’t about me, I have needed to reconcile what I really believe about God in this if I am going to be able to be 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 are suffering egregiously 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 will 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 will 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 am going to pray without ceasing for God’s compassion and unfailing love for these families and I am going to trust He is 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).
“Lord, we are broken and hurting for our dear friends. Tragedy forces us to turn our eyes and hearts to you with hope and desperation and for that we are grateful, but this is so hard. We know You get this. You brought unfair, unthinkable pain and tragedy upon yourself when You sent your Son to the cross. We can’t fully understand that either, but it is in that place of redemption, mercy and healing we will commit to pray and trust on our friends behalf. In Your Still Great Name, Amen.”