We’ve all been in a place where you don’t feel equipped for something, like loving someone well in the midst of a devastating loss. Where do you even begin in trying to comfort them? What are the right words to say? What could you do to make it better? These are questions we’ve all honestly had before as long as we are doing our job- loving people. The questions themselves aren’t wrong because our heart is in the right place. But the Enemy likes to keep us in that place of insecurity. The Enemy works well in this place, and far too often that’s where we stop. We just freeze in our uncertainty of what to do and don’t lean in to love more. But the truth is that God has equipped us to love in spite of our insecurities and questions, because He gives us enough grace.
I recently had the privilege of hearing Katherine Wolf speak on anointing with oil in the context of a camp she and her husband founded for individuals and families with disabilities. She explained so beautifully how this practice of anointing is a covenant that communicates that you will stay when it gets hard. Jesus stayed when it got hard too. This type of commitment to love is exactly what Jesus requires. It speaks against what is said to be the greatest human fear- abandonment.
This commitment to love in the midst of the grief, loss, and all of the hard stuff is beautifully portrayed in marriage and in friendship. The enemy has tried to attack me through both of these relationships in light of my recent loss, but I am so grateful to say that God has overcome in both.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus… Philippians 2:1-7
I mentioned in my first post that when I found out that we lost the baby I was alone. That’s where the Enemy started to work, in the least creative way possible, to try to drive a wedge between my husband and I. By the grace of God, I decided in those really dark moments that I had lost enough. I would not lose my marriage because I had a choice in this. What did this look like? This looked like scrubbing dishes at the sink with tears in my eyes, talking to God, and telling the Enemy to flee from my home and my mind. Praying for a Christ-centered perspective of marriage, trusting God, and a commitment to your sacred vows are not simply buzz words. These words are the actual hard and holy things that we are called to do.
I am thankful that I was aware from the beginning that Andy and I would experience grief differently after losing our baby. This awareness can’t be explained past the working of the Holy Spirit. I give credit to the Holy Spirit because I am a woman with what feels like a natural instinct to build up expectations just to be proven wrong. We had different emotional and physical connections with our baby in those three months prior to our loss. Therefore, it made sense to me that our grief would be different too. Though I know all of this to be true I still had to remind myself of this more than once over these past couple of months. We have realized that despite our grief looking different, we are both still grieving nevertheless. In spite of the Enemy’s lies, we are not grieving alone.
The unity of marriage is a sacred and beautiful thing. The key is to remain in unity. Even though your experiences are so different, on a basic level his are not physical, it’s important to still communicate and share in one another’s suffering. We have to look past our own feelings, experiences, and circumstances and see the other person and theirs. It’s no easy task, but the miracle of it all is easily worth it. This terribly hard season is bringing my marriage to a place that is more tender, compassionate, and grace-giving. I could not be more thankful for a union this strong, thanks to the power of our God.
Years ago, prior to this life event, Andy and I studied with our small group how Job’s friends comforted him simply with their presence. There is a human thread that connects all of us, and the need for companionship is real no matter our personality. We were blessed with countless acts of love and thoughtfulness over the past two months. As I remember, the one that was most moving was having my best friend drive down from Nashville just to sit with me.
Solidarity with suffering requires actual presence, whether it’s physical or otherwise. When you know someone in the midst of suffering, join them. I can say truly that I remember every text, phone call, meal delivered, and note. I doubt I will ever forget those people that took the time to do so. They were the hands and feet of Jesus in those first few weeks.
Send the text. Make the phone call. Mail the letter. Drive to their home. Show up with love for your neighbor, and in doing so you are serving God.
Every Christian should seek to be a comfort to our friends and neighbors in times of sorrow. However, we tend to stay away due to fear of being inadequate. We do harm instead of good when we let sufferers suffer alone. If instead we use God as our teacher of comfort, we will know how to bless others in their times of loss and pain.
When people ask what has blessed me most these past couple of weeks in my state of mourning I can honestly say prayer. It has sustained me and my family. If you catch yourself typing out the words: “I’ll be praying for you,” I encourage you to pray before you press send. Remembering someone before the God of all comfort is the greatest thing you can possibly do. It also, not coincidentally, requires the least amount of time and planning.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
Furthermore, when we know Jesus as a comforter we are able to sing songs of trust even in the night’s darkness. In my grief, I have seen Jesus in the loyal love that has been shown to me both in my marriage and in friendships. Once again, let me say… Praise God for my husband and dear friends!