In the wake of losing Keller, many friends explained that they were at a total loss as to how to offer comfort. It’s almost scary to see such a grave reality and feel the responsibility of responding with the perfect words and actions. It’s daunting. So, when ever someone asks, “How can I best help/aid/comfort you?” I point to Romans 12:15 every time.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.”
Only the Lord mends up hearts. Jesus is already our Savior. We need you to be our family. Get down on your knees, make yourself vulnerable to the intense pain of others, and weep right along side of them.
Within an hour of the news spreading to our church family, our preacher came to the hospital and just sat. He didn’t come in and try to offer some sentiment that would somehow ease our pain. He just sat in the hospital all day long. He knew we were in total darkness and he hunkered down right next to us. Richard, you will never know what this meant. We would get occasional updates from the “outside world” and every time they would say, “Richard is still sitting outside.” We would weep and praise the Lord for your love. Such a simple act said more than any poetic words of comfort ever could. Take note from Richards example. Hunker down and just be with those in pain. Your time and love are giant gifts. Another family came from church and did the same. Lucas family – you are rock stars. I wanted as much literal light in the room as I could get. The situation itself was so dark that just having sunlight come into our room kept me able to focus better on the task at hand. Our shades were pulled all the way up. At one point I looked outside and saw through a window across the courtyard 16 year old Esther just sitting in the waiting room, at the ready, filled with love. We smiled and waved at each other. A moment of comfort I will forever treasure.
As the news spread, prayers began storming the gates of Heaven. We felt God at work. We received countless messages, emails, and texts. (Actual messages received)
“I just want you to know I’m lifting you and your family up in prayer. My heart breaks for you all.”
“I love you my dear sweet friend. I wish I could be there to hug you.”
“I will do anything to help you. If I could take your pain I would (in a heartbeat).”
“I can’t tell you how much my heart is aching for you and Nathan. Both of you are in my prayers. I love you with all my soul.”
“Please know that I am here for you and praying for you and your precious family. Please let me know if you ever need to talk or cry or scream.”
We couldn’t respond to any of these. I promise you with all of my heart that not a single message we received felt in any way “trite” or “unworthy” of the tragedy we were experiencing. When you meet death and tragedy, respond with love. Whatever love is in your heart, offer it up to those in pain. Nothing you can say (aside from being cruel) can make those experiencing death “more sad”. This is not a possibility. So just pour out every bit of love you have. “I love you”, “I’m praying for you”, “I am so so sorry” – that’s all. The blow doesn’t need to be artificially softened with phrases beginning with “at least“, or by pointing out a positive facet of the tragedy. When someone is at the bottom of the pit, looking for a silver lining or a way around the full weight of the tragedy is never helpful. I say this with all humility and with full realization of the difficulty of comforting the broken. I say this with a sincere desire to help those helping loved ones crushed by sudden death. Each time someone reached out to us in love, we were deeply encouraged. It’s hard for me to even start to express our gratitude for the love we had poured out on us. So, if I never responded to you reaching out with love – this is my deepest, realest thank you so much I can muster. I love you. I praise God for you. You did a mighty work in our lives. You are the hands and feet of Jesus. Keep pouring out love. Rid yourself of the pressure of saying the “perfect thing” and just love.
Our church family rallied around us. They met at the church building and petitioned to the Lord on our behalf. They sat, wept, and poured out their hearts to the Creator of the universe. We couldn’t be there. We never heard the prayers offered. We never listened to the hymns sung. The sacrifice offered in that room on that night was tangibly felt by all in our delivery room. The Lord filled our space. Your good works, your sacrifices to God, your empathetic tears do not go unnoticed. They didn’t go unnoticed by us. They don’t go unnoticed by God.
We heard of groups of Christians meeting together in prayer around the country. We were so intensely focused on delivering our son. We couldn’t form words to pray. We relied on the Holy Spirit hearing the groanings of our hearts. We relied on our family to rain down prayers over us.
Wendy came into the delivery room, hands lifted up in surrender to Christ, ready to allow Him to work through her. It is only by His strength that we all pressed on. Due to Richard’s love and presence, he was able to pick my parents up from the airport. They came in mid-afteroon and labored right along side of us. They sat with us. They were at the ready to offer themselves up completely. There were times we needed to bitterly weep and wail with those we loved most. There were times we need to sit in silence as the reality of death crept into our bones. There were times we needed to laugh till we cried. There were times we needed to surf the internet as mindlessly as we possibly could. Wendy and my parents met each moment perfectly. The team we had surrounding us worked with all their might to carry us to meet the task before us – delivering Keller.
“Weep with those who weep.”
This is all you need to do. This is an incredible service and sacrifice that lifts a sweet smelling aroma up to our Lord. Thank you for sacrificing your time, your heart, and your lives on our behalf. Let me take this opportunity to encourage you. Keep loving. Keep offering up any bit of love you have to those in pain. It is the “cup of cold water” that the world desperately needs. Don’t try to fix anything. We already have a Savior who has overcome death and is near the brokenhearted. We just need you to be our family and love. Love with all the love you have.