Jump Start # 3041
1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
A man died suddenly and unexpectedly. His family was shaken. His wife was religious, but not a N.T. Christian. Friends gathered to offer comfort. This is a solemn and sad setting that many of us have been in before. I have been there way too many times. And, what so often happens, in the attempts to grab some comfort, things are said that are flat out not Biblical. Too many talk without thinking. And, I’ve heard these things. Sadly, I’ve heard brethren say these things.
· God needed him more than you do
· God has made him an angel now
· God will send you an angel to comfort you
· Your loved one is looking down right now at you
· God will send you a sign that he’s ok
· He’s up in Heaven, having a blast with all his golfing buddies
· He’s in Heaven raising a toast with the angels
Now, if we were sitting in a Bible class and I was to ask you to put some verses to support those statements, we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t do it because those statements aren’t from the Bible. They aren’t even close. They are not even in the same galaxy. And, so, are we really comforting someone when tell them things that are not true? Do we offer hope that is based upon fanciful ideas that we dream up?
Our verse today comes from a setting of sorrow and grief. The Christians were mourning the death of their fellow brethren. Paul reminds the brethren what will happen. He tells them to comfort each other with “these” words. He didn’t say, “Your words.” These words, were the words of God. These words were true, tested and right. These words are the words that need to be used.
So, what should a person do when they are in a setting of sudden grief and death? We don’t want to say the wrong things. We don’t want to comfort with false words.
Here are some suggestions:
First, it is not our place, nor right to determine the eternal destiny of someone. If the person who died was not a Christian, telling the grieving family, that he is lost will not help them. Don’t say that. Let God determine that. You need to find words that heal, not further hurt. God knows and at that point nothing more can be done for the departed.
Second, it is best to say little and just allow your presence and your helping hands do the speaking. There are many questions, a lot of “whys” and when the pain of grief is raw and so fresh, those often aren’t the best moments to really go down those roads. Weep with those who weep. Bring food. Sit awhile. Let the family talk. Show that you care.
Third, use God’s word to be your voice. Share a verse or two. They don’t need a sermon at the moment. They don’t need a discourse on what happens at death. Ecclesiastes says the soul returns to God. Simple. To the point. Share a favorite Psalm.
Fourth, don’t take the focus off of the hurting family. Some will do that. They will come and they will have to talk about the recent deaths in their families. They’ll talk about the funeral, who came and who didn’t and on and on and on they will talk. Some will say the wrong things, like I began this article with. Don’t get into an debate with others about those things. You are there to help the grieving family. Let your actions speak. Offer to take care of the pets, do the dishes, or even house set while they are aware at the funeral. Good advice is helpful.
A famous writer said, “Every man can master a grief except the one who has it.” Some are just too nosey. They come with thousands of personal questions that really is not any of their business. Families often feel compelled to answer every question that is asked. “Did he have insurance?” “How much is this funeral going to cost you?” “Do you think you’ll stay in the house?” “Will you remarry?” “Did he have any last words?” And, yes, I have heard all of those things said to a grieving widow. My advice is to pat the hand of these questioning folks, and simply say, “Thank you, for coming.” So many of those things are inappropriate and out of place.
Let us remember, that in trying times, whether a war in Europe, a global pandemic, or a death in the congregation, do not forget what we know. These are not the times to toss everything we have learned overboard and go to the extremes to try to find comfort for those who are having difficult times. Be careful with the line, “I know it will get better.” Do you? Could you prove that? You hope it will get better. I’ll be praying that things will get better. But do I know that? No. Only the Lord does. It would be hard to face these people after we have promised, “I know your marriage will get better,” when it ends in divorce. Or, “I know it will get better,” when the person does leave the hospital. He dies.
No one can comfort any better than the Lord. Use His words. Use “these words.”
Much to think about…