There it was. Not the sort of thing you expect to bring unexpected peace in a time of turmoil and sorrow, but it did. My friend tells me that perhaps it was the unexpected act of kindness. Maybe it was the simultaneous meeting of two needs: food for her family who hadn’t eaten all day and comfort in the way of knowing someone cared. There, on my friend’s front porch as she arrived home, was a big bucket of fried chicken from a local fast food restaurant. Attached to the big bag containing the food was a simple note: “You are loved” with the signature of one of their neighbors. My friend’s dad had suddenly taken ill and had been at the hospital the past few days. On this particular day, he had succumbed to his illness and died. It had been a long day at the hospital with no time to eat and too much time in grief. As my friend and her mom and sister made their way back to her home, this simple act of kindness – the bucket of fried chicken – ministered to them more than words or Biblical truths ever could have in that moment. “Who would have thought, Nikki – a simple bucket of fried chicken would be the perfect display of grace and love that we needed in that exact moment?” She went on to tell me how they sat at her kitchen table eating that fried chicken, having moments to cry and also moments to laugh as they recounted memories of her dad. It was the perfect release they needed in that moment. Their physical and emotional needs met in a simple bucket of fried chicken.
I have been thinking a lot about the topic of how we minister to those grieving a loss lately. Although I prefer the “lighter” and “funnier” topics here at MXTV, I also know that real life isn’t always light and funny. This past week, a friend of ours passed away unexpectedly in her sleep at the age of 31. Medical examiners believe it was an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia. She leaves behind a husband and two small children. In one instant – she was here; in the next instant – she was gone. No warning. In times like these we are instantly reminded of the post-Fall world we live in… the world that is not as it should be, but the one that Christ still came to die/resurrect for so that we could have eternal life with Him. The Bible tells us that in heaven there is no pain, suffering tears, etc. (Revelation 21:4) So somehow, someway, all this pain we are experiencing here is made right there. Somehow, someway, we will arrive in heaven and all will be made new with no sadness. This is Biblical theology and truth. And it does bring comfort. Yet, in those first moments of grief…. those first pains of bad news that one knows will forever change his/her life… we must take pause and consider how to minister most effectively. God promises that He is near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18) and we can embrace our role to minister well to those who are hurting. A professor I had while I was pursuing seminary coursework said quite clearly to our class one day: “when you seek to minister to someone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, you do NOT spout off Biblical theology…. You serve their needs and you grieve with them.” (Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:15, among others) I guess he could have simply said – “you take them a bucket of fried chicken and let the know they are loved….you cry with them, and sit with them.”
I hope that as we encounter these Fallen moments of the world we presently live in (and rest assured, most sadly, we will encounter them) that we will reach out to one another in love. I hope we can sense how to serve one another best by meeting physical needs and emotional needs. And I hope that we will have the ability to know when simply a bucket of fried chicken is all that is needed in the moment…
by His grace -