Befriend, Chapter 12: Befriend Those Grieving and Dying
This week we are discussing chapter 12 of our bookclub book, Befriend, by Scott Sauls. Even if you haven’t read the material or didn’t participate last week, please don’t hesitate to share your heart! This is how it works: I’ll post some initial thoughts and recap some of Saul’s points, but then I will post Sauls’ questions in the comments section. If you see a question you want to answer, simply reply to the question. And if you want to reply to someone else’s comment, please do! Or, if you want to ask your own question or start a new talking point, just create an original comment that isn’t a reply to anyone else’s. Make sure you check back throughout the week in case someone has posted on your comment or asked you a question.
Ground rules: This is meant to be an encouraging, redemptive conversation. Please communicate with kindness and grace.
We have been reading two chapters at a time, but I cried my way through chapter 12 and guessed many of you might have, too, so I thought we could just discuss this one chapter. Chapter 12 is titled Befriend Those Grieving and Dying. Sauls starts by sharing part of his own story in which his mother is doing poorly and he is witness to his parents suffering together. He not only sees his mother suffer physically, but his father suffer as her husband who loves her deeply and is grieved by this cruel reminder of human mortality. But as Sauls watches his parents brave this suffering together, he is reminded of the things on this earth that really matter—the small, mundane things that communicate love and that are gifts from God given to us to express sorrow and devotion and delight. And Sauls says that in his dad’s heroic love for his mom, he has a renewed understanding of God: God, in whose image Dad has been created, is a God who weeps over things gone wrong in his world. He is a tender God who takes no pleasure in sorrow, suffering, or death. He is a God who comes alongside and assures us that he is here and that we are never alone. Moreover, he is a God who voluntarily suffered a death blow to save us from death’s ultimate and final sting and to assure us that he knows and has tasted death and sorrow firsthand. As we face our mortality, we know that the immortal God did also. As we grieve the decline of those we love most deeply, we know that God did also. God buried a Son, after all.
Last week brought devastating news to a family in our community about their beautiful toddler in her battle against cancer. Praying for a huge miracle is their only hope for healing this side of Heaven. Reading these words and being reminded of this tender side of God’s character is imperative in grieving well and walking through suffering well with others. As I beseech God and weep for this family through my prayers, I can pray with confidence to a God understands.
And this is Sauls point—as we befriend those who are dying and those who are grieving, we gain insight into God’s character in very intimate, redemptive ways that we wouldn’t gain otherwise. We experience a side of God that we don’t experience when all is well. I think this is why we were so drawn to Kara, isn’t it? She articulated God’s grace to us in a way we had never heard before because of her suffering and her proximity to death—God was so near to her, and we wanted to be near to God. By drawing near to Kara, we hoped to experience that intimacy with Jesus that she was experiencing. You would think that by befriending the grieving and dying, we might find ourselves depressed, but it’s the opposite, isn’t it? We find ourselves understanding Hope renewed:
It’s through the pain of death that we understand our need for redemption and we taste the hope of Christ as the Resurrection.