Truly Christian Help
You are in your discipleship group, and someone reveals their recent, painful loss. You respond by expressing empathy and grief. But then what? Buddhists and atheists and Communists express empathy and grief. What next, that would be “Christian”?
Read Titus 1:1-2, and insert “Paul”, with your name, and “an apostle of Jesus Christ” with the less technical - but still applicable - phrase “one sent by Jesus Christ into this moment”:
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began . . .”
Walk through the passage with me. In suffering, our most valuable commodity is faith. Your job, as a useful friend, is to seek to support and build up the other’s faith. You can “come alongside” with empathy all you want – that’s good. Do it. But it’s insufficient. We endure suffering in godliness and in hope by faith.
Faith from a “knowledge of the truth”. Faith that firmly rests on Jesus’ coming, death, resurrection, ascension, present reign and soon return. Faith that risks one’s life on the belief that God never lies when He makes a promise to His children. We believe that truth because we believe Jesus is the proof - all of God’s promises find their “yes” in him (2 Cor. 1:20).
Your being there, in that moment, was no coincidence. You were sent there by Jesus, for a specific purpose: for the faith of those elect ones in that room. You are not there first for you, and not even precisely for the sake of “them” in general, but “for the sake of” their faith. Jesus sent you there so that their faith would not waver but would remain on Him. He is strong enough.
Therefore you consider, for the sake of their faith, the promises of God. Perhaps you’re not quick enough in the moment to recall one, but you go home and rifle the Psalms for promises, coming across Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted . . .” You text that to them, adding “The cross means this is true for you, right now”, and as you send the text you pray: “Father, please let these words build up their faith. Create supernatural hope in You, in them.”
Christian help points to Christ . . . and adds another prayer: “Father, do the same in me.”