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Learning To Comfort Others

By Don Loftis | 07.10.13

Anyone who is honest, recognizes that our world is filled with pain and hurt that spills into the life of every person.  There are rejections, failures, illnesses, fears, and deaths.  These hours of suffering cry out for comfort from someone who cares.

However, we also are aware that not everyone has the same “gift” for compassion.  In the midst of Job’s tragedies, his friends offered very little real help.  In Job 16, he addresses his friends, “Sorry comforters are you all.  Is there no limit to windy words?”  We cringe at the well-intended but quite painful message extended in a sympathy card to a young mother whose four year old was killed in an auto accident: “I am sorry for your loss, but God needed your baby more than you did.  At least you have another child.”

In painful situations it is hard to know how to respond.  Let me share four suggestions:

(1) Listen more than you talk. Remember, your presence is your greatest present.  A cup of coffee may be more appreciated than a sermon.

(2) Allow those who hurt the privilege of expressing their hurt and anger.  If God can listen to our pain through prayer, friends ought to give one another space for emotional honesty.

(3) Refrain from trying to explain “why” something happened or what future blessing may grow from this loss.  The time for that will come, but those in pain can’t see or understand it.

(4) Reaffirm God’s love, presence, compassion, and power.  Reassure those who hurt that they are not alone.  II Corinthians 1:3 echoes that reassurance, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”


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