Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Don’t Suffer Alone

People receive comfort when we feel their hurt and sorrow with them. Jesus illustrated the ministry of comfort when His friend Lazarus died (see John II). When Jesus arrived at the home of Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha, He wept with them (see vv. 33-35). His response is especially interesting in light of what He did next: raise Lazarus from the dead (see vv. 38-44).
Why didn't Jesus simply tell the grieving Mary and Martha, "No need to cry, my friends, because in a few minutes Lazarus will be alive again"? Because at that moment they needed someone to identify with their sorrow. Jesus met Mary's and Martha's need for comfort by sharing in their sorrow and tears. Later He performed the miracle that turned their sorrows to joy.

Hurting people receive comfort when they know they are not suffering alone. Paul instructed us, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn" (Rom. 12:15). Others may try to comfort their friend by cheering them up, urging them to be strong, or explaining the causes of their suicidal thoughts. These people may care about their friend and mean well by their words but they may not know what comfort sounds like. Comfort is found in identifying with them emotionally. Share in their hurts and struggles. Offer a gentle touch, an appropriate embrace, or a shoulder to cry on. Share words like, "I know it hurts," "I'm so sorry you have to go through this," "I really hurt for you." Save your words of advice or admonitions from Scripture until you have identified with your friend's feelings. That's biblical comfort.

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