Weep with those who weep
It is hard to see someone we care for in pain, hard to know what to do in the moments when we are confronted with the pain and loss of another. It’s a very big challenge to sit with or come alongside someone who is riding the waves of grief.
Grief is awkward, messy and uncomfortable. The bible commands us to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), but as we enter into moments where those we love are grieving, we find that it’s not something that we are very good at. Weeping with those who weep means that we will also be messy and uncomfortable, as we connect with our own grief and/or capacity for grief. Instead of entering in to someone’s pain we keep things at an arm’s length, searching for ways to fix, alleviate or move the pain away.
So how do we learn to weep with those who weep? How do we draw close to our brothers and sisters in Christ as they grieve?
Avoid rejoicing with those who weep
We can all think of the bible passages that echo the refrains of Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good”. Or perhaps something akin to James 1:2 might spring to mind, where we are told to count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds. These verses are so very true, but for someone who feels as if their heart has been turned inside out, these truths are akin to pouring salt on an open wound.
Even though these truths are shared with good intent, and a desire to care and support those who are grieving, they place distance between brothers and sisters. No matter how well-meaning a those words may be, hearing those truths or seeing them written on a card can feel callous, impersonal and distant. These truths do not connect with the intensity of pain that someone is experiencing, in the moment that your words of comfort miss the mark, the grieving brother feels incredibly misunderstood and alone.
Without realising it, we are rejoicing with those who weep.
Sit with the pain
Instead sharing comforts that don’t quite connect with experience, God calls us to weep with those who weep. He calls us to be compassionate, to be empathetic, to share in their experiences.
This command isn’t just for those of us who are naturally empathetic. It is a command for all those who are of the body of Christ. Romans 12 is a chapter that explores what it means to live out of the gospel, a chapter that is filled with commands on how we are to live as children of God. We are all called to weep with those who weep. Throughout the gospels we read of how Jesus was ‘moved with compassion’ for the people around him and how this propelled him into ministering to them.
As we are renewed to be more like Christ, a part of the sanctification process is that we grow in compassion. We grow in our ability to empathise, in our ability to sit and weep over the brokenness of this world.
Some more tangible ways that we can do this are:
- Listen to understand. When a friend or member of our church family is sharing some of the pain they are experiencing, we listen carefully, asking questions about their experience that allow us to enter in to their pain.
- Be comfortable with the silence. Words are not always needed. As our loved ones work through their grief they wont necessarily need to speak about it. Instead they might need to just sit in silence, with you by their side, knowing they are not alone.
- Learn to lean into the discomfort. Understanding and connecting with another person’s pain is not comfortable and we will want to shift from that moment as soon as possible. Instead, as we continue to grow in compassion, we also grow in being able to sit with the pain, discomfort and mess of those who’s lives are in turmoil.
- Don’t try to fix. Too quickly, we find ourselves taking on the role of saviour or healer in these situations. We want to make it all better but we cant. That is not our job. That is something that has already been done.
Find the comfort and hope of scripture together
Scripture is filled with hope, security and comfort. Not just the big truths that we spoke of earlier but the comforts that we find in knowing that God is our refuge and our rock (Psalm 18), that he is our shelter in the storm (Isaiah 25:4). It is the promise that he will walk by our side through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23), that he is holding us, protected and safe in the palm of his hand (John 10:28-29). He promises that he is the source of our strength (Psalm 46:1; 73:26).
God draws his children close. Even as their hearts are torn in two, and they grieve over holes that loss leaves in their lives. As our saviour Jesus has bridged the gap between us and God so that we can be held in his arms as we weep. As we weep with those who weep, we can guide them to passages that remind us of who God is and how he provides comfort even in the darkest moments.
It is never our job to fix. Instead, as we grow and learn to weep together with those who weep, we also learn to shine and reflect the one who came into the world so that the brokenness can be restored. We learn to point to the hope and comfort that can be found as we learn more and more about who our God is.