Last Sunday I invited Amanda’s family to join me on stage and answer questions about life, death, grief and loss. It was an incredibly healing time for all of us. We laughed, cried, and processed in real time. It’s always been a value in our church to be authentic and real about where you’re at and how Jesus is walking you in next steps and I believe that applies from the top/down of leadership. Thank you for letting us be real with you!
Unfortunately time constraints didn’t allow us to answer every question that was texted in but I decided to take the best 5 questions we didn’t answer and give my best explanations right here on the blog. You can see the answers to questions 1-3 on a post from earlier this week. I'll answer questions 4 and 5 today. I hope this helps to provide healing and hope in your situation.
4. Your family seems strong and rooted in faith. What advice would you give a new believer who may not be as strong with their faith when it comes to losing a close friend or family member?
There definitely is value to having a rich heritage of faith when you’re walking through this level of tragedy. I’m extremely grateful for both sides of my family and their relentless trust in Jesus during all of this. It would have been excruciating had even one person decided to let this tragedy throw them into bitterness and anger toward God.
But the reality is whether you’re a new Christian or a seasoned believer we all serve the same God who has for us the same promises. He promises ALL of us that He will heal us, that He will sustain us, that He will provide for us, that He will guide us, that He will protect us, and that He will never abandon us.
The only way I would counsel a new believer to walk through this is the same way my family and I are walking through it:
(1) Go to church every week - Something about being in the presence of God, with the people of God, hearing the word of God bolsters your faith and heals your heart. The Bible promises it here (Romans 10:17) and here (Hebrews 10:25). For that matter, even if you’re NOT currently going through a serious tragedy you should be in church every week. The way you grow your faith muscle so that it’s ready for the trial you’re not yet in is by hearing God’s Word be taught and applied in your life!
(2) Read the Bible - God will speak to you if you position yourself to hear from Him. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and it will direct your steps as you walk through trials (Psalm 119:105).
(3) Surround yourself with Godly community - Trust me when I say this. YOU CANNOT DO THIS ALONE! You must surround yourself with people who will listen to you, be with you, walk through this with you, speak truth to you, point out your blindspots, cry with you, comfort you, and pray with you! You need to be in a consistent group of some sort (Grief Share, Divorce Care, Celebrate Recovery, and/or a small group at your church). Again I repeat, DON’T TRY TO DO THIS ALONE!!
These three things seem so basic but they really are the life-giving components to healing. They are the blood cells and platelets that heal the wound of your heart.
5. What should I tell someone who I'm close to that has experienced a tragedy?
Do whatever you can do to be there for them. I’m a firm believer in the POWER OF PRESENCE. You don’t need to try to think up some slick, theological phrase for them. That’s not what they need right now. They need a good friend to sit with them, cry with them, hold them, hug them, listen to them, and embrace the messiness of grief with them. It’s in Jesus' presence that we find healing, hope, freedom, and power. If you’re a believer, you’re a carrier of Jesus' presence. So when you are present with someone, you are bringing to them Jesus’ presence. Christian, for many people in your life you will be the only “Jesus" they encounter. Your presence itself will bring a lot of healing and hope to their situation.
Whatever you do, don’t distance yourself from a friend or a family member who is experiencing a tragedy because it’s too difficult or awkward for you to handle. I’ve definitely experienced the sting of someone pushing me further away because it’s awkward for them. When we don’t know what to do we often don’t do anything. This is the worst way you can approach this! They need you more than ever RIGHT NOW! Lean into it with them and be PRESENT!