The Cloak of Grace Part 3
More Sentiments To Warm The Heart
For the readers who have been with me through the two previous articles in this series, I thank you. You listened as I shared the pain, fear, and doubts that I worked through in the unexpected loss of my father. And many of you could relate to those same feelings because of your own personal losses. (If you are a reader who is just joining us, you may find it helpful to read part 1 and part 2 to set the stage for part 3.)
I think that, for those of us who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we walk with a limp, of sorts. And perhaps it is a limp that never heals. But it is one that I now perceive to be a gift. The gift of humility. My approach to the bereaved is a meek one now. It is steps taken softly on the sacred soil of the heart that mourns. I no longer share pat answers in an attempt to help someone pick up the pace of their journey through grief.
Last week, I spoke of the cloak that Paul requested for Timothy to bring to him while he awaited the outcome of his actions for sharing the Gospel. Paul needed the warmth of his cloak for his battered body and he needed the friendship of his ministry companion for his battered soul.
The word “cloak” is a Medieval Latin word meaning a traveler’s cape. Cloaks were used to bring various kinds of comfort to the sojourner in that day. It provided shade from the hot sun, a barrier from the wind and rain, as well as warmth from the cold. Historically, cloaks were made very differently than the capes or ponchos of today. The material used was thick and durable with the added benefit of being treated with oils that made them wind and water-resistant.
I shared how God had showed me that when we give words of encouragement to the downcast, we are extending a cloak of grace. Grace that will wrap the grief-stricken heart in a blanket of care. Warm words to bring affirmation that they are loved; and confirmation that God is near. Heartache needs His oil of gladness administered and most of the time this comes through the words of hope and healing from others.
A verse that I have held onto as a part of my reason in writing to others is found in Isaiah 50:4 “…the Lord awakens me early in the morning to bring a word in season to him who is weary.” Perhaps it’s safe to assume that most, if not all of us, should hold onto this verse as a way of remembering that others need us. We are messengers of His love and His hope. There is life and power in the words that we share, especially when they are inspired by God, Himself.
So how can we know what words will be most effective in bringing His healing power and blessing? First, trust that God will use you. He wants to use you. He wants you to represent Him and to be a physical version of Himself. His word says that we have the ear of a disciple. He will give us the words to say. Second, when you quiet your mind and your surroundings, and pray, His Spirit will bring appropriate scriptures or words to your mind for you to share. These words of life will be so much more impactful than any Hallmark card’s sentiments ever could be.
When your desire is to be an encourager, the Spirit Who sees your desire, will give you grace-filled words when you need them. But sometimes we just need a little help in getting the words to flow. This is where this post may benefit you. Below, you will find a few phrases that you may want to use to get you started. Use them as you like while replacing my words with words that sound more like your style and the way you speak. I wrote them the way I write, however, the person receiving your encouragement will appreciate your words more if they sound like they came from you. So consider the words below to be merely the bones of your message. You can use your style to dress the words in an appropriate fashion that represents you and God best.
I pray that you find the messages helpful. There have been times when I’ve read someone else’s words and thought, “I couldn’t have said it better myself!” Then there are times that I’m sure that I could have said it better myself! That’s the way these will probably be for you. And keep in mind that no one is expecting perfection when they see your note in the mailbox. They will only see the care and time that you spent to encourage them. And that gesture means more than you’ll ever know! I promise!
Today, we’ll focus our words and thoughts on those who are grieving. In the days ahead, we’ll tackle the words spoken in gratitude, thinking of you’s, and I’m sorry’s. So stay tuned for those.
It’s important to note that the phrases below are NOT pieces of advice to give to the hurting. But rather, a grace extended. A blessing spoken. Nothing trite or flippantly said. Just heart-felt words of concern and care. I pray you find that these sentiments spur your creativity in the days ahead and inspire you to bless a brokenhearted soul even today!
Words For The Grieving One:
I have no words that can lessen the pain of the loss you feel today. But there is a God Who can. May His presence comfort your heart. May His arms carry the weight of your sadness. And may His promise to see you through bring the hope you need to face tomorrow.
When your grief feels like fear, remember that God is very near to you. And in His nearness, fear cannot win. I pray that He holds you so close in His presence that you find comfort in His heartbeat.
They say that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken. May we keep your father alive in our hearts by fondly mentioning his name and reliving our best memories of him!
When the darkness of grief is the only thing you can see, may He fill your eyes with the brilliance of His light. His promise to you is that His hope is on the horizon and His mercies are new every morning.
Grief is such a dark and lonely place, isn’t it? Doubts and fears creep in and threaten to steal your faith and shadow your hope. But God works best in the darkness and the light of His assurance and peace becomes brighter than a thousand dawns.
When Mother Teresa said that “it’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving”, she was certainly referring to the likes of your mother, who gave her all, in the most loving ways!
May you find comfort in the assurance that you will never walk alone. One day soon, you will look beside you and you will find that He has been with you through it all. He never abandoned you. Not even for one day!
My prayer is that God will heal your sorrowful heart and lift you from the despair that you feel today.
Those who leave behind the most gaping holes in our lives, are the ones who gave of themselves in the most generous expressions of love. Your father has left such a hollow in the hearts of so many, including mine. You must be so very proud of him!
She’ll be in all of the old familiar places at every turn of yours. And for a while, the pain of her physical absence will be intense, no doubt. But in time, you will turn and catch a glimpse of her spirit, and you will smile. And in that moment, you will experience the grace that comes to the grieving heart.
For a while, the only thing you will hold onto is the deep and weighty sadness of grief in your soul. And those who love you best won’t expect you to carry anything else for a while. But in time, may you find the strength to carry the love of family and friends in your heart. And until then, let our love carry you.
I will help you keep his memory alive by sitting with you quietly, listening to you share whatever is in your heart. I’ll listen to your oldest memories of him, the things you’ll miss most about him, and the things that drove you crazy. You can share it all. Because in remembering him, you will hold onto him. And in sharing him, you will allow me to hold onto him too.
I expect you to freak out at times and I promise to be here with you when you do. And I expect that this journey could get pretty messy at times. And I promise to be here with you when it does. I’m not going anywhere. My ministry to you will simply be my presence with you.
There you go. Phrases from the heart, not penned by Hallmark, because honestly, they don’t need to be. In the next article, we’ll explore creative ways to get your message out, but for now, may I encourage you to write—whether you have a lovely card or not. A sheet of paper and a regular envelope works just fine. Countless times I have been guilty of delaying in getting a message to someone in need, simply because I was waiting until I could go out and purchase or make the perfect card. Our greater concern should be to get the thoughtful message to someone, even if the packaging isn’t the best.
Best wishes to you as you begin looking around for who you can encourage today. I’m excited to hear how you allowed God to use you! Please share!