I don’t know if it’s because of recent world events, or the time of the year, or some other reason, but this topic has come up around me in several venues recently. In a Facebook group. In recent conversations. And then a reader asked me if I’d ever written on it. When I said no, she asked me to do so.

What’s the best way to respond to someone who has suffered unimaginable loss? 

To be sure it’s uncomfortable for everyone. We want to help. We want to be a comfort. We want to say and do something. A desire to make it all better, if only that were possible. 

There are some things that are decidedly not helpful or comforting.

God didn’t take a child because He needed another angel. That’s just bad theology on every level.

We don’t know how someone else feels. All our situations are different. All our reactions are different.

Frankly, even saying that God has a plan isn’t helpful or particularly comforting. I’m not sure God has a plan to make us grieve.

One of my biggest concerns in this situation is the misquoting of Romans 8:28, which often comes out as “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord.” Here’s what the verse actually says,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

In all things, God works. That’s a far cry from all things working out for good. Because honestly, some of the bad stuff that happens in this world would have a long way to go to even approach anything good. But the truth is that God is working. Always. In all of it.

He’s working to comfort, to heal, to help us know that regardless of our circumstances, we are loved.

So what do we say? There’s only one thing. “I’m sorry.” There’s so much bravery in those two words…in the friend who will sit in the quiet and hold our hand…in not needing to fill the silence with too many words.

Just say, “I’m sorry.” Because really, our presence is more important than our words.

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

God will definitely comfort those who mourn as He works in their situations to bring healing. And He may well ask us to be part of that process too. To be present. To help share the load. To comfort.

There’s a holy work that goes on in the silence as we sit with those who mourn. So I just pray we will choose our words wisely. Because there really is just one thing to say. 


Thanks for creating community here with us! The Big Red Sofa Series is about the things I see in life that make me go hmmmm. What God teaches me in scripture. The ordinary things that God can use to drive home spiritual lessons. The questions I sometimes ask. The stories we can all share. So pull up a cushion and join me on the sofa. I’d love to hear from you!

With music and song...
Testimony Tuesday: Kaitlyn Bouchillon