Consolation is a big Bible word.
Google defines it in the following two ways:
“…the comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment;
a person or thing providing comfort to a person who has suffered…”
When big words come into the pictures, its easy for us to form misunderstandings and misconceptions about the concepts they represent. Because there’s no instruction booklet for loss and mourning, there isn’t really an instruction booklet for offering help to those who are hurting. When I sat down to talk to Matt though, he presented to Biblical foils for offering consolation, offering help and hope. Job’s wife shows us one way of offering consolation in Job 2. She was there in personhood, but not really there is spirit or in heart. She scoffs, offers bad advice, and speaks a fair amount of judgement towards Job’s ash heap and his suffering. That’s a good lesson in what not to do!
John 11 shows us a different way, from Jesus Himself -
Holding a hand
Opening our heart to hear their pain
When we do that, particularly in the church, it isn’t just us showing up, but for that one soul, it’s Jesus.
In today’s podcast, Pastor Matt Schuler and I encourage you to walk right into the awkward and difficult of someone’s suffering and grief with no need to say anything beyond -
We might open our mouth further. We might offer words of hope and restoration. Those are good things and we’ll talk about that too. We might also need to ask for forgiveness when we say something silly or unhelpful. The Spirit works in that too.
However, it’s easy to overlook the most important thing… simply showing up.
Helping in Grief and Loss = Showing Up
This can be the difference of the church in this world. How often have we as the church or in the church avoided people because their grief is uncomfortable? How often have we copped out because of the pressure to say pretty things or the very best thing? Instead, let’s take the pressure off. We can walk alongside, sit and hold a hand, and just ask how people are doing. Our God is the God of all comforts. He comforts us in every affliction. How powerful a thing it is to remember that loss and grief impact so many around us.
When the world ducks and avoids…Dear Church, we will lean in and show up.
Let’s gather around and learn together today- in the comments name any affliction, any loss, anything in need of consolation that may get overlooked, stepped on, avoided or ignored.
We can speak, we should speak restoration and hope in those moments of loss and suffering, but of course we’ll say dumb things too. Jesus works there too. For today, we’re going to work on the first step - showing up for those who are grieving and sitting beside them.
Listen in to the podcast for more on grief, loss, and God’s comfort, His consolation.
(Look for more on loss, mourning, and grief work in Season Three of the podcast as part of our Truth about Mental Health series.)