Recently there have been a number of very difficult and tragic events that have taken place in the lives of people I know. One person is dealing with relational chaos, another friend is struggling with work, a few people have serious health challenges, and another friend from back in the day lost her son. Ugh. Heartbreaking.
My heart absolutely aches over the issues swirling around our faith family and friends.
Scripture encourages us to not pull away from people when tragedy or difficulty strikes. Romans 12:15 tells us to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” In other words, walk in step with others on whatever journey they are walking. I find it easy to have words for people when it is time to rejoice with those who rejoice.
However, when someone is in the pit of depression, or a health crisis, or facing a tragic loss… I often don’t have the words. I desire to mourn with those who mourn, but the usual words seem hollow in those moments. I do believe that the most important thing to offer people, in the midst of difficulty and pain, is your loving presence and not clever words. I think the most helpful thing is walking alongside someone on THEIR journey.
One well that I draw from in times of mourning, tragedy, and confusion are the Psalms in the Bible. Often when I don’t have the words for a prayer or words to articulate what I’m feeling, the Psalms provide me the honest words I need. The Psalms get real about real disappointment and pain. The Psalms reveal that God is big enough to handle our anger and confusion.
For example, in Psalm 22:1-2, David writes:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”
He goes on to proclaim his trust in God and desire for God’s name to be known, but in this Psalm you get that complicated real life experience of having faith in God and at the same time questioning if He is even listening. When I don’t have the words, I look to God’s Word to give me words. I find that they are more honest than some nice, “Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul” quote.
So, do you find yourself around people who are mourning or struggling? What would it look like to be present and walk with them in their journey? Take the pressure off of having to say something profound and healing. Perhaps your presence is the best gift to give.
Do you find yourself in need of words to pray or share in the triumphs and tragedies of life? Perhaps the Psalms will be a well you can draw from.
May God bless you with His presence on your journey.