The Soma Family of Churches lost a leader, friend, brother, husband, and devoted father last week. Randy Sheets’ impact for Jesus’s kingdom will never be fully known until we are together again in the new heavens and new earth. You can read more from Soma Tacoma here.
All who loved Randy are grieving. How does our Father meet us in our grief?
Our Father Comforts
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Our God is the God of ALL comfort. ALL comfort comes from Him. Any moment of comfort in tragedy, any word of sympathy that greets us, and any mercy received in the morning comes from our Father. What a miracle! “Father” is not a metaphor for God, but the reality of who He is. Amidst tragedy, God doesn’t run away. He doesn’t shield His face. He doesn’t dive into distraction. He comforts.
In ALL our afflictions, Jesus is comfort. The scope of His comfort exceeds our sorrows. There isn’t a pain He doesn’t go towards, a tear He doesn’t greet, nor a loss in which He does not meet us. When John of Patmos sees the end of this world, he sees God dwelling with humanity again, and the activity of God in that moment is wiping away all tears (Revelation 21:4). With His Presence. Every tear. Every Affliction.
In the Cross, Jesus faced the greatest discomfort so that we could be comforted and so that He could send His Spirit, the Comforter. The Holy Spirit dwells within us as the Comforter, the one who is with us always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
We Give Comfort
“…so that (purpose) we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
What God does to us, He intends to do through us. Having first been comforted, we have comfort to share from God. This is a gift from God, that those who are mourning will not only be greeted by God, but also invited to share that comfort with others.
All those comforted by God are given the ministry of comfort. Grief doesn’t occur in a vacuum and neither does comfort. The loss of a brother is a loss for all in the church. While degrees and intensity come at different volumes, we’re afflicted together. But as the presence of the Spirit gives us the mercy and comfort of the Father, He gives us the powerful ability to share in His work of comforting others in the same way He comforted us.
In the midst of the tragic loss of Randy, his family, his church, and those who ministered alongside him need comfort from God and will need to be comforted by others. How do we comfort others?
How We Offer Comfort from God
Be Comforted First
The best way to offer comfort is to receive comfort first. Cry out to the Father, weep with Jesus, and rest in the Spirit. Ask God why while sitting in His presence. This is hard and often we avoid it. We must get the order right. We need to give what we have received. We need to offer what we have. Be comforted. In case of a loss of cabin pressure, flight attendants ask that you put the mask on yourself first before helping others. If you don’t get oxygen, you won’t be helpful to others! In the same way, be comforted before comforting others.
Presence is the Most Meaningful Gift
When I found out we lost Randy, I immediately called my mentor, Rick. I asked him what is helpful for those who are grieving. Rick reflected on one of the most painful times he’d walked through and shared the most helpful person was the friend who put his arm around him as he sat in the hallway of the hospital in the middle of the night for 4 hours and just cried with him. They never said a word. Just as God comforts us through His presence, we, too, give comfort through our presence. Give the gift of your presence. Your concern will be felt and words won’t need to be spoken.
Use Few Words
Often, we exaggerate the power of words. We believe if we could get the right words spoken, or spoken enough, those who mourn will be “feel better.” But words are unhelpful. Many people over extend in these situations. In an attempt to make those who are mounting feel better, they say too much. In times like these, even Bible verses will not be helpful. There is rarely anything that can be said that can make someone feel better. Don’t exaggerate the power of your words. If you must use words, the most meaningful words are these: I’m with you and you are not alone. Then, next month, next year, next decade, the best words will be a question: “How are you grieving the loss?” After that question, take the posture of listener again.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
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