Thursday, January 20, 2011

Comforting Those Who Grieve in The Church

God prefers to use his Church to be there for people who are grieving.

But we in the church so often abdicate our God-given responsibility by telling the grieving one that "God will be there for you, you should look to Him to provide for all your emotional needs..." (and worse still, prescribe a Bible verse).

Just read the book of Job to see what God thought of thoughtless "theologians" who lambasted Job.

Personally, I'm really bothered by this "God-only" theology because it detaches the healing & building role of the Body from the Word & the Spirit when it comes to comforting grieving / hurting / wounded people.

I think the Bible commands us to do our own part in the healing process. For instance, Romans 12 has very clear instructions for what you & I can do, in view of God's mercy to us, having saved us.

So think this is something tt we Christians can do to comfort a person who is grieving over the loss of a loved one as well. Not try to prescribe a verse, but just: affirm, acknowledge... and accompany.

Affirm the person's courage/strength/love for his/her lost one, etc.

Acknowledge the person's loss - because even if it's not a total loss, the person's pain is real. Like how an amputee's phantom pain is real pain. Help the person face up to the loss full in the face.

Accompany. Besides physical presence, you can also accompany the person emotionally. But it depends on the other person as well. But as long as the person knows in one way or another that he/she will not be alone in his pain, he'll be stronger.

BTW the pain I talk about is not just death of a loved one, but also loss of a close friendship, a job loss, loss of something precious...

Proverbs 12:25
"Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up."

Proverbs 16:24
Kind words are like honey—
sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.

Hope we, the church, can take up our own God-entrusted responsibility to do His work on earth by comforting & ministering to those who are hurting.

To answer those who will say that we can only do so much - the other person has to take responsibility - well, that's very true. But the church is to be like a support for a vine to coil around so that it can receive even more sunshine.

Like a tall, strong stick, the Church should never lower the holy standards that a healthy Christian should live up to, but at the same time, we must help one another find a safe and stable support without judgement / condemnation to grow & flourish and bear the fruit that God wants them to bear. Remember, we are Christians, not Nazis!

Ah. The Body, the Word & the Spirit. It's a mystery, yes, but these are how God chooses to do His redemptive work here on earth in the NT era.

(I keep thanking God for Hanhui, Peter and Weizhu who all taught me in this - about how to care for those who grieve & are hurting. Incidentally, they also set life examples for me especially in the value of being sound-minded using the Word.

Interesting correlation right? ;))

Sent from my iPhone

No comments: