Bearing One Another’s Burdens: Embracing Our Christian Call to Comfort

Just recently, we found ourselves supporting a dear family enduring the crushing pain of a miscarriage. Just stepping into her second trimester, the mother was anticipating her sixth child, a son they had already begun to cherish without even meeting him. The tears that followed were heartrending and seemingly endless.

While this experience offered a stark reminder of the hidden yet widespread anguish of miscarriage, a phenomenon that my wife and I, unfortunately, know too well, it also presented an enlightening lesson on communal grief. One of the most profound things I observed was the exceptional way the church rallied around this family during their time of distress. Having been staying with them at the time, we were privileged to witness their Christian love in action.

First came the listeners, compassionate ears who truly heeded their pain. The feet were next in line, arriving promptly to assist with running errands. Following closely were the hands, delivering flowers, comforting beverages, and treats for the children, while the arms provided warm, comforting hugs. The noses brought along the family’s favorite meals, and while slower to engage, the mouths eventually offered words of encouragement and hope. Among them, all were the tear-filled, empathetic eyes, a poignant testament to shared sorrow.

In all of this, we saw a stunning depiction of the myriad ways we can lend our support to those who are hurting. Love was not only palpable but took on many diverse forms. It unfolded at different times, in different manners, and through different people. Some showed up immediately, others came later, some could only afford a few minutes, while others stayed longer. Amidst the sadness, it was undeniably beautiful to witness how this church had learned to lean on one another in times of sorrow.

This extraordinary display of love echoes the kind of generosity Apostle Paul commended when he wrote to the church at Corinth about the churches of Macedonia:

“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)

Paul was urging the Corinthians to give generously to aid the struggling church in Jerusalem. His plea was for believers to reach out to those who were hurting, even if they were miles away. Through this, he sought to demonstrate the profound impact a unified church can have in times of suffering.

The churches of Macedonia, as Paul describes, were themselves in a challenging state, dealing with severe affliction and extreme poverty. But even under such conditions, they exhibited an unexpected wealth of generosity, their joyful spirits undiminished. This is a powerful testament to how, with God’s grace, even those burdened by their own needs can find the capacity to help others.

The Macedonians didn’t just give, they gave “according to their means, and beyond their means, of their own accord” (2 Corinthians 8:3). They found joy in the act of giving, even when they themselves were in need. This, they accomplished by first giving themselves to the Lord, thereby finding the strength to offer more than expected to their fellow believers.

Their joy in sacrifice emerged from setting their hearts on God rather than on temporal earthly riches. A heart set on God begins to redefine concepts such as wealth, poverty, sacrifice, and security. As they released their grip on worldly possessions, they discovered an inestimable treasure (1 Timothy 6:18–19). It’s in living an unusually generous life that we experience the joy of being unusually Godward.

True Christianity encompasses both a commitment to God and to people. By beginning with God, we are spurred to meet the needs of others. Within the church, there’s a marriage of abundance and need, with seasons of prosperity and times of want. God’s abundant grace allows us to bear each other’s burdens, reflecting the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though rich, became poor for our sake that we might become rich through his poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9).

The church, being the body of Christ, is God’s instrument for providing for his people, not just in terms of financial aid but in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:6–8). This includes offering comfort in times of sorrow through home-cooked meals, supportive notes, unexpected phone calls, thoughtful conversations, and even simply being present in someone’s time of grief.

As believers, we are all called to find our unique way to comfort those who are hurting. We mustn’t leave it to someone else, assuming they’re already overwhelmed with messages or visits. When trials arise—whether it be illness, job loss, marital problems, or death—we should be the hands and feet of Christ, trusting that God will use us to meet the needs of those in pain.