By Tyler Quillet
Grief is inevitable. Throughout life, we lose loved ones. It is a part of life that either pushes us closer to Christ, or drives us away from Him. Certainly, you will face grief as a group, if you haven’t already. This may be the loss of a group member, which you all grieve together, or maybe it is an individual or couple in the group who loses a loved one, and you walk that journey of grief alongside them. No matter the loss, it is great, and people in your group will be desperate for reminders of the hope that only Jesus can provide.
I don’t know about you, but when I am overwhelmed, stressed, or grieved I tend to have blinders on. I easily get uber-focused on the task or circumstances at hand, and have a hard time seeing anything outside of that. It’s a laser-focus, but not in a good way. And, when this happens, I don’t think things through, I don’t have clarity, and most importantly, I often don’t seek Jesus. I’m too sidetracked by what has me overwhelmed at that moment. Grief does this to many of us. There are constant thoughts of the person that we lost, the what-ifs of our own future, the empty hole that has been left in our lives, and so much more. Those thoughts tend to dominate our minds and keep our focus off of Christ.
As Christians, we desperately need one another to point to Jesus. Especially in times when we struggle to turn our own hearts to Him, it’s vitally important that we remind each other of who Jesus is. What an incredible opportunity we have to point those who are grieving to Jesus. This doesn’t have to be in a large group setting where the griever may feel “ganged up on.” Those who are grieving should be allowed to be there—grief is healthy and ok. Allow your people to grieve, but help them to trust in Jesus while they grieve. I believe doing both is not only possible, but also what God desires from our hearts. Grief is unhealthy without hope in Jesus, but it’s an amazing step of faith when we can say, “God, my heart is shattered, and yet, I trust in you.” So how do we help each other get to that place? What kind of reminders can we give those who are grieving so that they can take steps of trust as they grieve? Here are a few ideas:
- Write a note to the grieving person. This is not to help them move beyond their grief, but to remind them of who God is as they grieve. Use simple words like, “I’m praying that God would overwhelm your heart with His peace as you trust Him in this time.” Remind them of His goodness by sharing scriptures like Psalm 34:18, Lamentations 3:21-23, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 41:10, or Psalm 34:4-8, 17-18.
- Send a simple text with one of the Scriptures above. Or, simply text, “Praying for you right now.” If you do this, actually spend time praying for them in that moment. Reminding them of God’s Word may prompt them to dig into that Scripture on their own.
- Call them and simply ask if you can pray with them. Praying with someone is an incredible reminder of God’s faithful presence with them. Pray that their trust in Him would deepen, that He’d remind them of His goodness and faithfulness to them, and that they’d grow in their love for Him.
- If/when this person is back in group, allow them opportunities to share their grieving heart. Don’t force them to share, but allow them to do so if they desire. Don’t use this time to try and “fix” anything about their grief, but speak truth and remind them of God’s goodness in response.
- Be sure as a group that this person has relational outlets. They may be incredibly lonely, but not able to reach out to someone. Without forcing your presence on them, invite them to dinner, ask if you can bring over a meal, go on a walk, or invite them back to group if they haven’t returned yet. Use these moments with them to listen to their heart and respond with grace and truth.
Many who are grieving think, “Why me?”, “Where is God?”, “How could a good God allow this to happen?”, “What have I done to deserve this?” and more. Use every opportunity you have to speak the truth of God’s love for them, His faithfulness to them, His presence with them, His grieved heart over death, and most importantly, the hope that only Jesus Christ provides. As we continually point the grieving heart to Jesus, those blinders I spoke of earlier begin to come off. And, in the midst of grief, your group members will be able to remind themselves of God because you helped them to keep their eyes focused on Him on this journey.
While God will do the heart work in those who are broken and hurting, He is calling us to come alongside and point them to Him. Remind them of Him. Reassure them of Him. It’s all about Him, and while they may know this truth, they’re likely in a season of needing that reminder. I’m thankful that they have you to walk this journey alongside them.
Tyler Quillet is the team leader for the Custom Church Resources and Smallgroup.com team at Lifeway Christian Resources. He lives in the Nashville, Tenn. area with his incredible wife, Cathie, and two boys, Cylas and Bowen. Tyler is the author of Yet: Embracing God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of Grief. He also speaks, writes, and coaches alongside Cathie as they pour into and care for those battling infertility through Cathie’s, The Quillet Institute. Tyler previously spent 15 years as a pastor and is passionate about serving churches and pouring into church leaders in a variety of ways.