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A Friend in Grief

Words of Faith Final

A Friend in Grief
Words of Faith 6-9-2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2008, 2021
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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Esther 4
    [1] When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. [2] But he went only as far as the king's gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. [3] In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes. [4] When Esther's maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. [5] Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the king's eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

      Esther was apparently unaware of the impending pogrom or the imminent doom scheduled for her people.  She had no idea that her husband, the King, had issued an edict ordering the genocide of the Jews in the land.  When she heard that Mordecai was grieving dressed in sackcloth and ashes, Esther did an interesting thing.  She sent him some new clothes!  Rather than inquire regarding the grief of her cousin Mordecai, it was easier just to ask him to cover it up. The clothes were rejected and then it occurred to Esther to send someone to find out what was troubling Mordecai.
       The truth is that sometimes we would rather dress up the trouble of a friend than face it with them.  Grief disturbs us. Pain is uncomfortable. Depressed people are often, well, depressing.   We would prefer such things go away.  It is far easier to send some new clothing than to deal with the sackcloth and ashes of a friend.  Some grief or pain can have far-reaching implications such as in the case of the pogrom but all grief is deep and far-reaching to the person who is grieving.
       The text raises a question: How can we respond to grief as a friend in Christ?  How can we respond to the pain another is going through?  What do we do when a brother or sister is suffering from depression?  
       Well, here are some things NOT to do.  Don't attempt to dress it up.  Don't send "new clothes" to replace the clothes of grief.  Don't urge someone to put on a happy face or just believe harder.  You see the key is not really in anything we say.  It is in listening and being willing to walk with someone through a hard time.  I think Esther learned that.  Esther finally figured out that she needed to seek to understand what was causing such grief to Mordecai. We also need to listen deeply to the pain of a friend and then simply walk with them.
        The truth is that most of being a Christian friend is not "fixing" them or redressing their pain.  We are not called to do therapy, criticize, or even "sharpen" a hurting friend.  We are not called to give suggestions, advice, or theological critique.  The friends of Job were good at all that.  We are called to listen, not run away, and then walk with a friend through the pain.
        Is there someone around you that is hurting?  Someone in your church family going through a lot of pain?  Is there someone who wears sackcloth and ashes?  Someone that others are not allowing past the gate?  You can make a difference not by anything you say, but just by being there.

         Lord, give me the grace to listen to those around me.  Give me the heart to listen without speaking and the grace to lighten the load for another.  In Jesus' name.     

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2008, 2021
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)        
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.