Helping the Bereaved – Matthew 14:12-14

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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What should you do when a friend loses a loved one in death? Many are so uncomfortable and so unsure what to say, they simply avoid these friends. Others offer platitudes in an attempt to give comfort, while some urge their grieving friend to move on with life. There are actually three passages that give us keen insight for what do to help the bereaved.

The book of Job gives a lengthy account of four friends who came to give comfort as soon as they learned of Job’s sorrows. Their initial responses were very good. They immediately came to spend time with Job to demonstrate compassion and comfort. Then they wisely sat in silence with Job for seven days, letting their presence voice their love. Only when they began to speak, and render conclusions, and judgmental ultimatums did they undo the previous good. We learn from these examples that when others grieve, we simply need to be there, be quiet, be a good listener, and be nonjudgmental. When Mary came to our Savior grieving and weeping over the loss of her brother Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). There is nothing wrong with men or women allowing the sorrow of a friend to touch their own soul so that they literally weep with those who grieve. When these emotions are genuine, they express a love, connection, compassion, and understanding that no mere human words can convey adequately to those in mourning. The lesson here is to allow yourself to cry with those who sorrow, if your tears are genuine. Paul put it this way, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15). When John the Baptist was murdered, his (John’s) disciples came and “told Jesus” (Matthew 14:3-13). Our text says that Jesus “departed…into a desert place.” However, Mark 6:31 specifies, “He said unto them [the disciples of John], Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile.” Luke 9:10 tells us Christ “took them, and went aside privately into a desert place.” We learn from our Lord’s response that those who are grieving need time to rest, not in solitude, but with a compassionate friend who will attend to their physical and emotional needs while their spirits grieve and begin to heal.

Arm yourself with these principles for action when someone is grieving. In fact, it would be good to record these principles in your Bible so you have a quick reminder the next time they are needed.

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Start each day with short, devotional articles taken from the book Daily Transformation by Pastor John Fredericksen. As Pastor Fredericksen writes in the introduction:

"We welcome you, as you journey with us..., to not only learn information, but to benefit from examples of faith and failure, and seek to apply God’s Word to every day life. Together, let’s transition from only studying theories of doctrine, to applying God’s truths in a practical way every day. May God use these studies to help you find daily transformation."