In the gospel, we see that Jesus bore our grief in our place for our sins (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus knows full well what we are going through, as He is like us and unlike us. He is utterly sinless, and we are not.
This is what is so amazing about Jesus — that we can approach Him boldly because He knows exactly what we are going through and yet did not sin (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16).
Jesus and Our Grief
As you consider your own grief and heartache, take comfort in the High Priestly ministry of the Lord Jesus. Jesus’ role as our High Priest means that He sees, knows, and understands us through and through.
Not only that, but He also longs to comfort you in whatever you are going through today. While in the Upper Room Discourse, he tells the disciples (and us) that He will prepare a place for them/us (John 14:3). He will also send the Holy Spirit the Comforter (John 14:26).
As a Christian, all that means is that you have the full weight of the Trinity — God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — working to accomplish the ends for which you were saved. This is for the glory of God that will be spread among the nations by His grace.
You may not think of your grief in this way, but there will come a time in your life when the Lord is going to use this season of your grief in the lives of others. God is not distant from you.
Please understand that God the Father sent forth His Son — Jesus — to die the death you deserve so your grief would not last forever. Why? Because He loves you.
Apart from the Lord Jesus, you would experience unending grief; but with Jesus, you have hope. Therefore, we as Christians do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
We all know people (perhaps ourselves or others around us) that are going through challenging times. We all also need one another in our local churches.
In the remainder of this article, I hope to help you be the kind of friend that cares for the grieving and the lonely in your local church and outside of it.
Friendship with Those Grieving
In John 15:15, Jesus says that He is our friend. We are no longer enemies of God, as Christians, but friends of God. In John 15:1-5, Jesus says He is the Vine, and we are the branches. Through Christ alone, we are fully loved and beloved by the Lord God.
To be a Christian friend, we must first know who we are in Christ to help other Christians grow in their understanding of who Christ is for them. To that end, let’s consider four aspects of Christian friendship: listening, prayer, discipleship, and counseling.
In James 1:19, James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. This is the heart of Christian friendships. We all want to get our say in and tell people what we think about a topic. But we must slow down.
To be a trustworthy Christian friend, we need to take James 1:19 seriously and be slow to speak and quick to listen, especially when others share deep personal pain and heartache.
In these moments, it’s best to empathize with the person and then pray with them. You need to understand that your friend may not have the words, and that is okay. Please give them a lot of grace and benefit of the doubt. After they are done talking, pray with them.
2. Praying for Your Friend
In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, we are commanded to pray at all times. But this doesn’t mean we are to pray all the time, 24/7. It means that we are to have a regular and consistent time of prayer. We should set aside regular times for consistent prayer, along with the reading of the Word of God.
Say that your friend is hurting and has come to you to share. You’ve now listened to them, and now you are about to pray with them.
So, what should you pray for? You should pray for the major things that they have shared, but you shouldn’t be overwhelming in your prayer for them.
Please also let them know you want to walk alongside them through this time and thank them for sharing what’s going on.
As Christians, we are disciples of the Risen Lord Jesus. To be a disciple means to be a learner of Christ. As Christian friends, we come alongside one another with the Word of God to do life with one another, such as talking with one another, sharing, and enjoying fellowship with one another.
Discipleship is not only for the spiritually immature; it is also for the spiritually mature. Every Christian needs to continue to grow in the grace of God.
At some point in your discussion with your friend, you will see areas where they need to grow. This is a good time to begin to ask questions of your friend. As Christians, we are all to make, mature, and multiply disciples of the Risen Christ.
After all, we are all at different stages of our lives, but we also have different life experiences. The Lord wants to use those situations in your life to help others grow in the grace of God.
You’ve been ministering to your friend, and it’s going well. Now they want to know how to deal with what they are going through. What your friend wants to hear now is how they should face what they are going through with God’s help.
This is why we start with discipleship. For many people, this is all they need. They need help to learn to deal with their grief and loss. For some people, they will need a trained biblical counselor.
This is why you, as a disciple of Christ, need to be in the Word and prayer each day, so you are equipped for these times of ministry.
As you talk with your friend, please realize that you won’t have all the answers, and that’s okay. Do your best. Share openly and honestly with your friend from the Word of God. Please try to share with your friend what the Lord has done in your life as you’ve learned biblical truth.
When you share and engage in conversation with a hurting friend, try to keep your sentences short. We can all tend to overshare. I’ve found it helpful to remember people aren’t coming to me for a sermon.
They want to not only hear biblical truth but also to see how the biblical truth I’m espousing is alive and well in my own life. Please keep that in mind as you engage with your friend, and listen for what is going on in their heart.
You’ve listened, prayed, and done one-on-one discipleship with your grieving, hurting friend. Now is the time, if your friend chooses, to let a trained biblical counselor or pastor go further with them.
What you need to understand here is that you aren’t a failure. You’ve walked with your friend as far as you can. You should be happy (and content) that you’ve done this.
You should also continue walking with them as they need you. After all, they have opened up and shared with you the deepest parts of their heart, and you’ve sought to minister to them in the Word.
Now would be a good time to let them know specifically you are there for them and available to have coffee, pray, and listen to them as they meet with a counselor (or pastor).
Love in Action
Christian friends who listen, pray, and disciple one another are needed greatly. At various times in our lives, we are all going to face seasons of intense grief and illness. By growing in the grace of God today, we can become the kind of friend that is needed tomorrow.
Commit yourself today to opening and reading your Bible. Don’t neglect faithfully attending your local church. Instead, commit to your local church and getting to know others there.
By doing so, you will learn not only to be a helpful church member but a Christian friend to others — in particular, to those who are hurting.
Please commit today, by the grace of God, that you will be the kind of friend you know you need — one that loves Jesus, is trustworthy, and is ready to walk alongside others.
By doing so, the Lord will use you to not only help those who are hurting but also to impact others for eternity for the glory of Christ.
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Dave Jenkins is happily married to Sarah Jenkins. He is a writer, editor, and speaker living in beautiful Southern Oregon.