Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Cor. 1:3-5
Recently I have experienced more grief for others than I have in a long time. The question of “why is this happening to this family” or “why can’t I be closer in proximity to this loved one” comes up in my head. And then I think, “how can I even begin to understand what this person is going through”, “how can I, a 23 year old girl who has never experienced deep tragedy, even know the words to say”.
And yes, I know all the answers to these questions too. We don’t always know the “whys”. We don’t have to have the right words. But I do know it is right and good to grieve with a person. We know that all things work for the good of those who love God. In the end, even tragedy will bring glory to God.
I am realizing that this is also the path God has called me to as wife in ministry. We will have to sometimes carry the burdens of others and will feel it deeply. Really, we all should do that as Christians. But I have seen it over and over in my own family growing up. The pastor is often the first responder on the scene right after the police or EMT. They are often one of the few in the room after a grim diagnosis has been given. They are often the first to be called when a loved one has died. And yes, they are at the grave burying that tiny box with mother weeping close by. If a pastor is there, the wife also carries the grief and burden.
You don’t always think about this in Seminary. In this world, you seem closed off to the realities of ministry and then when on the field you question, “why didn’t they teach us this in seminary”. But reality is you can’t teach from a text book the proper response to a mother’s grief. You can’t teach how to minister to someone who can’t even eat due to deep anguish. But we do know the truth and as my mom told me, “you can’t always tell them the truth in the beginning of grieving but you can demonstrate it.” When tragedy strikes, its not words but actions that mean the most. Whether that’s providing a meal, time to listen, a phone call to check in on them, this is what lasts.
Times like this make me feel so inadequate to the task I have been called to but oh how it makes me run to the Father who mourns with his children, who is the God of all comforts, who understands our emotions and can turn our hearts to the truth of His word. That is the only thing that can sustain a person this side of Heaven. Grief and tragedy have a way of making us long for Heaven and the return of Christ. It reminds me of the sinful, fallen world we live in and the hope we have that carries us through. Even so Lord Jesus come quickly.