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How to Help a Grieving Friend

To face grief is difficult, but to face it alone is even worse. In times of grief we all need strength, love, support, and encouragement from others. We all need companionship in distress so that we do not feel alone.

Fewer crises in life afford friends an opportunity for more genuine ministry than does the time of grief. What can we do to help our grieving friends? We have a pattern in the things that Jesus did to help Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus died (John 11:1-45).

1. Jesus went to be with them. That’s the first thing we ought to do also. What our grieving friends need is not an instant sermon, or a simple answer, or a long scriptural quotation. What they need is our concern. Our personal presence means more than any words we might say. So when friends lose loved ones, go to be with them.

2. Jesus wept with them. The verse “Jesus wept” is the shortest verse in all of the Bible. However, it speaks volumes about Jesus and how he helped grieving friends. He entered into the experience of grief with them. He felt what they felt. He shared their deep sorrow. He wept and allowed them to weep also.

To help a friend in grief we too must be the kind of person with whom they can grieve and weep unashamedly. They must know that we suffer with them and share their deep loss. We must never make people think that tears are unmanly or unchristian. They are neither. They are normal expressions of the emotions of grief and they belong in our lives.

3. Jesus witnessed to them. He assured them that their brother would live again and that he was the resurrection and the life. We too can affirm the reality of God’s love and presence, and his marvelous promises to our grieving friends. We must point them beyond the despair of the moment to the hope that resides in Jesus Christ.

4. Jesus waked Lazarus from the dead. We of course cannot awaken the dead like that, but we can awaken our grieving friend to new hope, new life, and to new usefulness. We must help them find a sense of release and renewed vision in life.

Follow the example of Jesus in ministering to your grieving friends. Go to them, weep with them, bear witness to them of the hope that we have in Jesus Christ, and help them to find the new reason for living. That’s the way Jesus helped Mary and Martha. That’s the way you can help your friends also. 

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Paul W. Powell - www.PaulPowellLibrary.com

Today's Devotional

Applied Christianity

I once talked with a man who was convinced that Christianity was a failure. His conclusion was based on the fact that while our cities are full of churches and preachers, our world is getting worse and worse.

If you think about this criticism, you must agree that there is much religion in America that has little effect on the daily lives of people. While the number of church members may grow each year, so does lawlessness and immorality. But does this mean that Christianity is a failure? No. At the close of World War I a soap manufacturer, walking down the street with his pastor, was bemoaning the “failure” of Christianity. He said to his pastor, “After 19 centuries of preaching and teaching Christ, there is still so much evil in the world. I don’t see how you can go on preaching the Gospel.” 

“I don’t see how you can go on manufacturing soap,” retorted the pastor. “Look at the little urchin playing in the gutter. Neck and ears filthy. There’s still so much dirt in the world. Soap is such a failure.”

“But,” countered the soap manufacturer, “If people will just apply the soap, they’ll be clean.”

“Yes,” concluded the pastor, “and if men will but apply Christ to their daily living, they will also be clean.” 

The evil of today’s world is not due to Christianity’s failure, but to our failure to apply our Christianity. As writer G.K. Chesterton said, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried."

Attend church Sunday, listen to God’s word, then apply it to your daily life and you and the world will both be better because of it.

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