We often need comfort, aid or succour during our lives. The word succor is the old word from the Middle ages and meaning to run to get help. It describes our need for relief, support and sustenance. It can be:
- When times are hard and you are a crisis point
- When you are devastated by what life has thrown at you
- When times are good, when you are on a high with success
- When you are busy with achievements and goals or
- When you are feeling fragile, hurt and confused
At these points it leads to the following questions
- Who do you turn to?
- Who provides the succour you so desperately need?
- Who gives you comfort when the extremes of life are hard to deal with?
I have three friends who have lost their life’s partner, their spouse, their lover and best friends in the past year.
My heart is sad for them and for the loss of wonderful men and woman of God. We know that they are now with Jesus but no longer in our world, to talk too, hug and in the case of my friend Alan, to play the saxophone with!
I thank God for their time with us all, for the memories they leave behind and for their individual and unique legacies.
What of my grieving friends?
How are they coping and how can others and I support them?
There seems to be a crisis time in the process of bereavement. The initial shock and grief where everyone gathers to comfort, the phone rings continually and at church people flock to the person to offer their love. A few weeks go by, and there is interest from others but after a couple of months, it is a core of close friends which maintain the interest, the others return to their own lives.
This may seem callous but it is right and proper as it’s impossible to sustain the level of intensity that initial loss brings – but how wonderful is the constant love of God. He is there for both people in their different worlds. He gives comfort and love on earth for those left behind and a joyous and awesome welcome for the one now in Heaven.
All three of my friends have strong faith and when their loved ones died, despite a few days passing, they went to church. Others were surprised that in their loss, they were in church so quickly. Perhaps, there was a thought that by staying at home, others were protected from seeing searing grief and loss and yet… When receiving the comment “I’m surprised to see you here so soon”, the response from each of them has been identical.
“Where else would I go?”
This reminds me of the story when Mary and Joseph “lost” Jesus. Luke (2:43-49) tells it like this. Jesus was a twelve year old and when his parents realized he wasn’t with their group, they had to return to Jerusalem to search for him. They finally found him in the Temple, talking about his Father with the teachers, asking questions and listening to the answers. When his mother rebuked him, saying “Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” or as another translations said, “We have been frantic, searching for you everywhere”. Jesus replied
“Why did you need to search? Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?”
It is the same with my friends. In their hardest time, in the shock of their grief where else could they be, but in their Father’s house.
God is everywhere we know, but a special place and time for Him is in church. Alongside other people who love God with all their heart and know the comfort of Holy Spirit and the need for family (church family) who can reach out and give special love at this time.
Church family who can gather to support, love and administer God’s grace and love. Though paradoxically, it is often the bereaved themselves who have to give comfort to those around them!
Going to Church (the Temple) is significant when you are hurting and need to be with God, still to worship Him even at the most difficult time, and allow Holy Spirit to comfort and give peace.
The faith of my friends, Nicola, Sarah and Stuart is a huge witness to others, by drawing on God, they show the way for others to rely on Him too. I thank them for this example and know, that their life partners, Alan, Guy and Jackie, though greatly missed, want them to use their passing for God’s glory.
Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?
(Luke 2:49 part a)