Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Kay Warren knows that through it all, God is faithful. Yet, two years after, Pastor Rick and Kay Warren of the Saddleback Church in California, lost their son, “painful reminders every single day of what has been lost” remain.
You can read her Facebook post here. But what’s most important is her guidance to well-meaning family, friends, and acquaintances who mail Christmas cards to grieving parents and family.
“What I’m trying to convey is this,” says Ms. Warren. “Please think about the recipient before you send a greeting card this year. If you’ve taken the obligatory picture of the ‘happy family,’ consider sending instead a plain card to a grieving family — one that doesn’t smack them in the face with a reminder of how life used to be for them.”
“Tell them in a few words that you are aware of how painful Christmas can be and that you are praying for them — tell them you love them and that you are with them in shared sorrow.”
The Bible offers many examples to guide us in applying our faith in a meaningful message during times of sorrow and loss. Job clung desperately to God, despite catastrophic loss and unhelpful friends. David openly grieved the death of his son.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4)
Jesus is our best role model for combining faith and grief. As revealed in John 11:1-45, when he saw Mary and Martha in anguish over the death of their brother Lazarus, he wept and groaned. Although Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, he still allowed Himself to feel – and express – the depths of human sorrow.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. (John 11:32-25)
Take comfort in knowing that Jesus leads us safely through “the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). Let his life embolden us to communicate meaningfully to grieving friends and family. Remember, a shadow indicates that there is light on the other side!