Hurting with Those in a World of Hurt
Bible Reading: Romans 12:14-16
When others are happy, he happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. Romans 12:15
The phone ringing in the middle of the night jarred the young pastor awake. “Pastor, our daughter…” the voice on the phone choked. “She was in a bad car accident tonight. She’s in surgery and . . . we’re not sure .. . she’ll make it.”
The pastor dressed quickly and hurried to the hospital. When he arrived, sad faces told the story. The teenage girl had died in surgery. He tried to say something to comfort the parents, but he couldn’t get any words out. He just sat and sobbed with the heartbroken mom and dad.
Not much later the girl’s parents moved away, and the young pastor didn’t see them for several years. When he ran into them at a conference, he was embarrassed. “I have an apology to make,” he said. “The night your daughter died, I failed you as a pastor. I should have read Scripture to you and offered you words of hope. But I didn’t. I just cried. I’m so sorry I let you down that night.”
“You didn’t let us down, Pastor,” the girl’s dad said. “You felt our hurt and cried with us. What you did brought us great comfort.”
That’s a deep lesson: The pastor thought he failed. But what he actually did was show the kind of deep sympathy Jesus showed.
When people run into sorrow, do you know what they need right away? It isn’t an explanation of why bad things happen. It isn’t advice. The first thing people need is someone to feel sad along with them. They need comfort.
Jesus showed what comfort looked like after his friend Lazarus died (see John 11). When Jesus showed up at the home of Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, they were crying over the loss of their brother. So Jesus cried with them.
Jesus could have told those sisters, “Don’t cry, ladies. Give me a few minutes and I’ll have Lazarus back from the dead.” Yet at that moment they needed someone to cry with them. So Jesus did. Later he performed a miracle that turned their sorrow to joy.
People who are sad find comfort when they know they aren’t suffering alone. So when a friend is crushed with sorrow or disappointment, we should do our best to feel what that person is feeling-to be sad along with our friend. And it’s okay to say something like, “I’m so sad for you” or “I hurt for you” or “I’m sorry you are hurting.” It’s what Jesus would do.
TALK: How can we best comfort our hurting friends?
PRAY: Pray for your friends who need God’s help—and ask God to use you to comfort them.
ACT: Do you have a friend who needs your presence? Spend some time showing comfort today.