Awaken at midnight by my husband’s cell phone, I listened intently, expecting bad news. Through the speaker, I heard a voice announcing, “This is the local police department.”
My mind raced wondering what had gone wrong.
In the ministry, we get all sorts of calls, at all hours. This call was due to a house fire. The police were requesting my husband’s assistance to provide spiritual comfort. While thankful it wasn’t a personal tragedy to any of our family or friends, my heart sent up prayers for this family, the firefighters, and my husband for wisdom.
What do you say to someone just getting told they lost property from fire, flooding, or a tornado? What do you say when they’re told their loved one was killed in battle, a wreck, or guarding a public event? What about being told a child has been abducted, sexually abused, given a cancer diagnosis, or even shot and killed?
No matter what the tragedy, how do you know what to say? After all, when tragedy strikes, a person immediately goes into shock, the first stage of grieving. Words refuse to come. Inadequacy overtakes, at least for me.
Maybe it’s because words don’t provide the most comfort upon initial loss. God designed a greater method, and much easier. Everyone possesses it, regardless of age, race, religion, intelligence, or income level. This great and easy gift is called “gift of presence.”
You see, I used to struggle with depression. Back then, new responsibilities arising from my new family coincided with my rapidly vanishing sight, from Retinitis Pigmentosa. Recalling those challenging times, I remembered what helped, and what didn’t.
Making mistakes, hearing negativity, or adding to my responsibilities or schedule immediately spiraled me to the lowest of lows. However, my husband’s presence made me feel better. Knowing he cared enough to stay by my side until I was better, comforted me. His presence let me know I wasn’t alone. Trying to fix things or to pamper me only created extra anxiety and agitation.
Having been through several tornadoes and emergency disaster relief efforts, I found the same thing held true. In every loss or tragedy, people wanted to know they weren’t alone, and to know someone cared.
Did you know regardless of what trial we might be facing, we’re never alone either? No matter what, Jesus gives us the same gift….gift of presence. He sent His Holy Spirit here to give us comfort.
When someone you know is hurting, and words fail you, give them the “gift of presence.”
Here’s some practical tips to also consider:
* Treat others the way you want to be treated (Golden Rule).
* Listen with your heart; not just your ears
* Don’t be distracted. Give them your full attention. (look at them when they speak, instead of texting, or something else)
* Pray during the quiet times
* Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect. If they’re sharing with you, there is a level of love and trust already there. People aren’t seeking answers or advice, but the love and compassion felt by your presence.
LET’S TALK: How much does the presence of someone who cares help you during rough times? What else adds to your comfort? Please share in the comments below.
***If you enjoyed this, share it with your friends on social media. I appreciate the time you’ve shared with me today. Please consider reading some of the related posts listed below.
© 2017, Jena Fellers. All rights reserved.
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