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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)

TITLE: Beautiful Love ~ Ministering To Those In Pain
By Rachel Malcolm


I sat trembling in the waiting room of the doctor's office; my breath came in short bursts that left me dizzy. Don't cry, not here! I repeated the words over and over in my mind as I tottered on the brink of wailing hysterically. Digging my nails into the palm of my hand, I tried to distract myself from the emotional pain that threatened to engulf me.

Only the night before, I'd suffered through a miscarriage. I had cherished that life growing within me, and now, my little one was gone.

It was in those days, weeks, and months following my miscarriage that I experienced God's beautiful love through the hands of His people. During that time, I also learned how raw and fragile the hurting are. God has used that experience to soften me and teach me how to better serve those who are suffering. It is my prayer that others will also be blessed by the lessons I learned in the refiner's fire.

Some of the best words are a simple, “I'm sorry for your loss.” In those painful weeks, I can remember walking into a room and have everyone in it go silent. The loss of my baby was the elephant in the room. People often don't know what to say to someone who is suffering. Next time you are in the presence of someone who is hurting—and the room goes silent—be the person who gives them a hug and whispers, “I'm sorry.”

Don't say you understand someone else's pain unless you've suffered in a similar way. While it is comforting to talk with others that have come through similar trials, the words, “I understand your pain,” ring hollow when you haven't experienced that grief.

Be a shoulder to cry on. I had never before met the doctor who cared for me after I lost my baby, but she was hand picked by God to minister to me in my time of suffering. Alone in the office, I let my tears flow freely. The doctor entered the room with her ankle length skirt wrapping her in radiant colours. “Can I give you a hug?” She reached out and squeezed me tightly; I was astonished to see tears in her eyes. “People will tell you to get over it, but the most important thing you can do right now is grieve.” Often the hurting will just need a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and permission to mourn.

Don't offer platitudes. Words like “It's probably for the best,” can just cause more pain. Even bible verses can be hurtful when they are offered flippantly. God doesn't tell us to cheer up the hurting—but mourn with them.

Offer practical help. Independence is considered a virtue in our culture. Make it easier for the hurting to accept your help by offering clear-cut examples such as: “Tuesday is my town day. Can I pick up some items for you?” or “I'd love to come over and help out with the housework, if that's okay with you.” A home cooked meal is not only practical, but it's also a beautiful gesture of love.

Don't be afraid to talk about the pain or loss. Experiencing pain can be very isolating. After my miscarriage there were very few people that were willing to talk about it with me, even though the healing took many months, and it was often on my mind. On the other hand, be respectful of those who don't want to talk about their pain.

These points aren't meant to be rules, but general principles in ministering to the hurting. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who gives comfort, but He often chooses to use us as ministers of His love.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

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This article has been read 692 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anne Warden12/14/13
Thank you for your practical advice.

When we are suffering, we need true friends. I thank God your doctor was your friend. She started you on your way to healing.

It is so true that "I'm sorry," can be the kindest thing to say. Often, it's all that's necessary because it means, "I care."
Anne Warden12/14/13
Your writing is powerful. It had me in tears.
Judith Gayle Smith12/15/13
Exquisite. Thank you for your heart. . .

Please "throw a brick" for others to enjoy, comment and support your writing:


Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Sheldon Bass 12/17/13
These are wonderful words of wisdom and experience. It took a long time for me to learn what not to do when attempting to comfort those who are grieving and hurting. It is the most difficult aspect of ministry for me.

Sometimes just sitting silently with the suffering ones and feeling their pain with them can be the balm of love that can strengthen them. As I expounded in an article. (Reg. articles) "A Heart For Others".

Thank you for sharing this entry with us. It is powerful.

lynn gipson 12/17/13
All I can think of the say is WOW. And not preachy at all, but tender and full of grace. Thanks for sharing this. I am one of those who can never seem to say the right thing.

Excellent writing.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/18/13
This is excellent advice. You covered the topic in a different and creative way. I could feel your pain and discomfort as you described people falling silent. I can't imagine what it's,like to lose a child and I pray I'll never have to know, Though I think your suggestions were for general grief, not specific, I must add another "don't" to the list. As a maternity nurse I can't believe some of the well-intentioned but horrible comments--You can always have another baby. I know people think they are comforting, but like you so aptly demonstrated I'm sorry with a loving hug can speak volumes. Thank you so much for sharing and helping people who don't know what to say. Great job.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 12/19/13
Congratulations Happy Dance!
Anne Warden12/19/13
Congratulations, Rachel. I'm so glad you received 1st place for your article. It is well-deserved.
Judith Gayle Smith12/19/13
Exquisite . . . congratulations on your well-deserved win!

Love & Hugs in, through and because of YHWH/Yeshua, Judi Hebrews 10:26-31 KJV
Nancy Bucca12/19/13
I can so relate to this. The one miscarriage I had was very difficult, and at the time I felt I had no one to talk to. The Lord is so good, though. Some time after this painful experience, God Himself brought comfort to me, along with words of knowledge from other Christians concerning what I'd been through and assuring me that I'll see that baby in heaven some day.

People don't always know what to say, but the Holy Spirit is a great comforter!

Congratulations on a well deserved win!
Bea Edwards 01/04/14
Beautifully written and inspired advise. Thank you for allowing us to grow with you through this tragedy.