“Comfort my people! Comfort them! Says your God.” Isaiah 40:1
Do you remember the last time you were in a state of physical ease? When you experienced freedom from pain or constraint? When is the last time you eased or alleviated a person’s feelings of grief or distress? Praise God you were comfortable at that time and you were a comforter to the person that was hurting or mourning the loss of loved ones. God comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:4).
My diseased friend Randall Leyendecker had a very friendly conversation with me seven years ago. We were exchanging how we lost our respective loving and caring mothers under very sad and troubled conditions. He complained about the reaction of people at that very tragic moment when his mother passed. He told me he was watching the last minutes of his mom’s life. It was almost noon on a sunny day. When his mom breathed her last, he looked through the window expecting everything to stop for a second in recognition of his mom’s bravery and charisma. In pain he watched while people continued on, doing their normal chores, cars moving fast on the highway, not noticing that he just lost his dearest person. He wanted comfort at that precise moment of his life but his desire was in vain. He was giving instructions to people in his heart to please STOP moving and stand still, but they just kept going.
In my last blog, I shared with you the take away from my class in the Adventist University of Central Africa called ‘Scientific and Religious Philosophy’ emphasizing the difference between Conservatism and Liberalism in the context of Scripture. As I was writing the last exam on that very cold and sad day, one of the administration officers came to me and asked me to return my exam sheets and meet him in the office. I was not done yet with all the questions but acted immediately and followed him in the office. He told me “I am so sorry, I am so sorry, once again I am so sorry for the loss of your sister back home. Please go back to the dorm and prepare to go home to attend the funeral of your sister scheduled tomorrow at noon.” I was not aware that my sister was sick. You can imagine the shock I had that moment, time stood still. The University helped me reach the closest city where I could get the bus to my home. To my horror, I arrived home late! My sister was already buried. I needed someone to comfort me at that moment but no one comforted me.
I found the following how-to guide on comforting others helpful for me and I pray it will be useful to you as well. It’s from the article titled, “How Do We Comfort Someone?” by Josephine Lim. To check out the full original article, https://www.inpsychful.sg/how-do-we-comfort-someone/
Comfort looks different for everyone. The primary goal of comforting is ease someone’s burden and suffering by helping to lighten their load by letting them know that we care for them, that you love them, that we better understand their emotions (Lambert, 2019). Words are powerful tools and if used correctly, they can effectively ease someone’s pain. My favorite words of hope and encouragement are found in Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” What do you do when a close friend starts crying? The person needs emotional support according to his or her specific needs. To resolve it read the following steps recommended by psychologists.
Steps we can take to comfort someone:
1. Witness their feelings “I know that this is a hard time for you, and I know that you’re hurting…” I hear you… It seems like you’re upset because of…
2. Repeat their feelings/Affirm that their feelings make sense “Of course you’re upset, I was honestly upset when… happened to me too.”
3. Draw out their feelings in order to better understand what they feel “Tell me what happened… how that makes you feel?”
4. Don’t minimize their pain or focus only on cheering them up “Your friend is not in the future, your friend is right now in the pain. Show up for them in the present.” (Unknown).
5. Be there for them, right at that moment
6. Offer physical affection, when appropriate… Give them a hug or hand on their shoulder depending on your familiarity.
7. Affirm/Express your support and commitment.
Remember that God is the Comforter of the comforters. Without His comforts other comforts are useless and cancerous. Let’s comfort those we know who are grieving or have passed through grief of their loved ones. Let me share with you my other preferred text in this context found in Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”