Loving When They’re Hurting

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The following is taken from my SOAP journal notes.

Wait – WHAT is THAT? 

I’m glad you asked. SOAP is an acrostic for a Bible study method developed by Wayne Cordiero. You can learn more about it at Discover One Thing here. You’ll also find daily blog entries with several Godly folks’ SOAP notes to inspire and encourage you on your own journey of getting to know God better through His Word. Join us!

S~ One should be kind to a fainting friend, but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty. Job 6:14 NLT

O~ This verse is a difficult one to translate, apparently, because different translations give widely varied takes on it. So I need to use the Bible study skills I’ve learned through inductive Bible study teachings by Kay Arthur (if you ever want to learn how to interpret Scripture, I highly recommend her 30 day book “How to Study Your Bible”): look at the context, and look at the overarching, clear themes of Scripture. The context: Job is in misery and in desperate need of strong support by Godly friends as he struggles through trials of a level few ever experience. The overarching themes: the fear of God leads us to action. Action that honors God almost always leads to loving people sacrificially.

Our culture says we should surround ourselves with strong people, avoid the weak, do things that make us feel strong and happy and secure. Sitting with a weak, desperate, perhaps even faith-questioning friend is messy. It is not happy-making. It may make us hurt, or cry, or be really worn out.

But it is a Godly directive. We are to ‘mourn with those who mourn’ (Romans 12:15) and ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2). And, oh, the pain is worth it. This is the real meat-and-potatoes of following Christ (Galatians 6:2 even says we ‘fulfill the law of Christ’ when we bear one another’s burdens). It’s living out what He did for us – entering into our mess, offering hope and perspective and rescue. And love. Oh, the love. So we comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Corinthians 1) because we are so grateful and we just have to share it with others who are hurting. Even if it hurts us to do so.

We choose to be kind to a fainting friend.

A~ A dear friend lost a co-worker and friend to cancer this morning. The woman was a young mother of three who was healthy and working six weeks ago. It happened so fast. My friend has never lost anyone close to her, not even a grandparent. This road into grief is completely unknown. My eyes filled with tears as I held my friend today. I know what’s coming. I also know there’s a way through these murky waters that leads to hope. But I know there will be dark days where hope may seem lost.

As Christians, especially as Christian leaders, we are tempted to think we need to do all this ‘well,’ whatever that means. We need to be sad, but not too sad. Angry, but under control. Questioning, maybe, but not really doubting. And there must be an appropriate time frame for grief, and then we must heal, or move on, or whatever you want to say.

Real life is messy. Real grief can be very messy. We do one another a terrible disservice to just say ‘I’ll be praying for you,’ and walk away.

So, in the days to come, I will choose to be intentional. I will send a few random texts. I will call. I will bring comfort foods and little hope-reminders. And I won’t quit after the funeral, because that’s when the rubber really meets the road (hey, reader, here’s an idea: if you know someone has lost someone dear, and the highly-attended funeral will be overflowing with flowers, why not hold off and send your flowers a week or two later, when everyone else has gone back to life-as-usual and the griever is left wondering how in the world everyone else is back to Technicolor happy when their world is still dripping gray? Just a thought.). And oh, I will pray. Because our fainting friends really need our prayers (that’s when the enemy spies a weakness and closes in with all sorts of awfulness. We need to pray for their protection in the middle of the yuck!).

P~ Lord, my heart just breaks for Natalie’s family and friends, and especially for my close friend who is facing the unchartered waters of grief. Walk with them. Carry them, Lord. Keep the light of hope clear as You light their path through the valley of the shadow of death. And help me be a good friend.

Are you grieving? This song is from an amazing grief-album by Karla Adolphe, available to download for a small suggested donation at http://noisetrade.com/karlaadolphe/honeycomb-tombs. The songs are honest and can give words to the unspeakable seasons of grief.  

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