There are many books on the market today addressing the subject of suffering and grief. Often a friend will hand a book to their hurting friend hoping the steps discussed in the reading will fix or at least soothe their distress. The gift of a great resource is not a bad idea especially if the book offers hope and discusses topics that are hard to communicate or often misunderstood. Over the years I have discovered books that are truly helpful and want to share these with you over time.
Books to help the friend of those who grieve are so valuable. The friend of the one who is hurting has a very important place on the timeline of life and death for the one who suffers. You will have the opportunity to be their listening ear, their safe place, their reasoning mentor, and perhaps the one who may be called to speak the truth in love. Most likely, we will know of someone in our personal world who experiences tragedy or unspeakable loss. It is at this point we are given the role of “Job’s friend.” This group didn’t leave a positive legacy for themselves; in fact, Scripture records Job’s declaration of his friends to be “miserable comforters are you all.” Thankfully, my family was blessed with a village of people who were everything but miserable comforters. They were instruments of God’s grace.
You will want to be that same kind of friend as well. Being There, by Dave Furman, is a fantastic new book on the market offering help to those who want to help. Truly it is one of the first of its kind and desperately needed for the body of Christ. Dave’s counsel comes from his own road of suffering teaching him that people need help knowing how to help.
Below is an assortment of very useful nuggets:
- “When Jesus breaks into your life and you’ve experienced the grace of God, you have hope to befriend the hurting.”
- “Grief is work, and sometimes it’s very hard work.
- “The one hurting doesn’t want to feel like a project or patient but wants to be your genuine friend.”
- “We must remember to love those who are hurting not because they’ve done anything for us, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. You will get the strength to help the hurting only when you understand what God has done for you in the gospel.”
Summary of what not to do:
1. Don’t be the fix-it person
2. Don’t play the comparison game
3. Don’t make it their identity – “Sometimes a great ministry to people who are hurting is to make them laugh and remind them of the sweet common grace God extends to us. Work hard to find ways to include your friends in something they would enjoy, and lift their spirits. Perhaps the best medicine of all is not found in a prescription from a pharmacy but in a good laugh.”
4. Don’t promise deliverance now – “Instead of promising deliverance in this life, point them to God’s presence and a future hope that will never let them down.”
5. Don’t encourage them to just ‘move on.’ – “The pressure to “get over it” typically increases the pain of the one grieving.”
6. Don’t bring on the inquisition – practice the art of listening
7. Don’t be hyper-spiritual – refrain from playing God in your interactions with those who are suffering. Respond with this, “I have no idea what God is doing in this situation, but I know that He is holy and good.”
8. Don’t play the avoidance game ignoring your friend’s pain completely. “The one hurting will often feel neglected and forgotten. There’s an important ministry of loyalty…It will be tempting for you to leave the side of your friend in his pain and loss. He may no longer be investing in your friendship like he used to. It may be difficult to be with him, and he may even be mean to you. You can quickly begin to feel like you’re not getting anything out of the relationship anymore.”
9. Don’t pledge general help. “Knowing how hard it is for people to ask for help, we need to offer assistance in a way that is easy for them to accept. Sacrificial service is marked by selflessness that takes the time to truly know the person’s needs. When you are caring for a hurting individual, one way you can demonstrate your love is by knowing people well and looking for opportunities to serve them.”
10. Don’t condemn them – “you have no idea what God is doing behind the scenes of your friend’s suffering. Brokenness in this world is not always (or even often) a direct result of that one individual’s sin. We live in a fallen world, and there will be death and suffering regardless of how we live.”
One of the greatest gifts is to pray for your friend. “Persevere in prayer and pray for perseverance in their trials.”
“Death will not be the final story of their lives.”
“God’s faithfulness in the past is both a model and a promise of His faithfulness in the future, but God is way too creative to do things the same way twice…”