When reading about what to say to people when they are suffering, I would say the most common advice given is to just listen. Don’t give advice, don’t quote scripture and don’t say it was God’s will.
I agree with this, up to a point. The day after a loved one dies is not the time to do a lot of talking. It is best to listen and say how sorry you are this happened and you are sorry for their pain. Later on, if the person asks you for help you could tell them how God helped you in a similar situation or perhaps give them a book that helped you.
Some people are even offended if a person says to them, “I am praying for you.” I think they are being too touchy if this offends them. It is a great privilege to be prayed over by a believer. It opens heaven’s doors to do more and more for you. (In my opinion.) It is so easy to offend people when it is the last thing you ever want to do. (I have hurt people’s feelings on Instagram and I didn’t want to do that at all.)
But I have learned a lot from other Christians giving me advice and quoting scripture. Joyce Meyer gives tons of solid advice on what to do with sad and negative feelings. Praying, reading the Bible (especially the Psalms) and listening to Joyce’s advice has finally helped me see I can fight depression and win. I didn’t think it was possible before I watched her program.
I’ve written about this in other posts, so I won’t go into detail on what Joyce says; but I was thinking about what God has said to those going through a hard time. I don’t think people would necessarily agree with God.
Job suffered the loss of all he owned and all of his 10 children. When his friends came to visit him, they said nothing for 7 days. They just sat with him. I’m sure this was comforting to Job, but silence can’t last forever.
Now when they did finally speak, they said all the wrong things. In fact, they blamed Job himself for his troubles. They said he must have some secret sin and God was punishing him. My advice is to never say this to anyone. Let the Holy Spirit do the job of convicting of sin.
So finally, God shows up. Did he say comforting words? No! He basically said that Job had no right to question why God did what he did. He was the creator and God of the whole universe. He was wise and knew what he was doing.
When Jeremiah was crying and complaining to God about his miserable life (and it was very miserable), God said, “If you can’t keep up with the foot soldiers; how can you run with the horsemen?” In other words, things were going to get worse so you better man-up!
What did Jesus say to people who were sad? He said, “Don’t cry,” to a woman who lost her son and then raised him from the dead. He said, “Don’t be afraid,” quite a few times. When the disciples were terrified of drowning in a storm on a lake he said, “Why were you afraid; where is your faith?
When the disciples were sad about Jesus saying he was going away, he said, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me.” Then he told them he would prepare homes for them in heaven and would return.
When Martha and Mary told Jesus their brother would not have died if he had been there, Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” I think people today would not like what God and Jesus said to people when they were suffering.
A few years ago, I was suicidal and took some pills. I survived, but wasn’t too happy about it. The next day I lay in bed and said to God, “Please get me out of here!” God spoke to my heart and said, “I could do that. But what if I told you that if you, live you will be a help to people.” I thought about it and said, “Okay, although I don’t see who I could ever help anyone.” Then he said, “You have need of endurance,” which is somewhere in the Bible. “Endurance!” I said. Who cares about endurance?”
But I kept that word in my heart, even though I didn’t care about it myself. I figured if God cared about it then I should care. Eventually, I began praying for endurance. Now that word pops off the page when I see it in the Bible. Yes, I can see I don’t have endurance. I want everything to be done and over and be in heaven with Jesus. I don’t want to suffer again as long as I live. I don’t want to go to one more funeral.
But I also remember how God was my comfort at those funerals. His grace was ample. His comfort overwhelmed me each time. Knowing this helps me to endure; and praying about endurance gives me hope he will give it to me when the time comes that I need it.
I do think we should be careful what we say to people. All the time. But we all make mistakes; none of us is perfect. I think we need to be forgiving of others if we think they said the wrong thing to us. We should not be touchy and quick to judge. We shouldn’t never go around telling people what so-and-so said. I’ve been guilty of that. My mother used to tell me, “It is hard for me to take offense. I always think they didn’t really mean what they said.” She gave grace to the person and I like that.