What do you say to someone who is facing difficulties? What do you say to someone who faces surgery? Or long term treatment for illness? What do you say to their family?
There are a couple of dangers, one is to avoid them because we just don’t know what to say, the other is to swamp them and talk about nothing else.
So actually how do we bring comfort.
- Spend time with people – build relationships now so you can bring comfort then.
- Spend time with people in crisis.
- Don’t say ‘It’ll be alright’ or I’m sure it will be fine’. They don’t know that and it is a vague wish without foundation.
- Comfort is ultimately found in Christ, his forgiveness and resurrection, the future is secured - we must be applying the gospel to people's lives.
- Christ will make up for every loss that we have endured here.
- God works all things for our good. It may be not be good, but he will work it for our good. Though often people can’t see it then, sometimes it takes 10 years or more, some never see it this side of eternity. Don’t expect your friend to feel it emotionally, they will be raw and in pain.
- Don’t preach these truths to them. Model hope for them – keep reading the Bible for those comforts we have spoken of above, and ensure that as you weep with them, as you hold their hand, as you feel with them that you show them hope.
- Sometimes when someone is suffering they will question God and the temptation is to want to correct them theologically. Let those words go.
- Pray for God to heal.
- Don’t idolise the world, but live for eternity. (Phil 3)
I would always want to read a passage with them, and close by praying for them and their situation.