My best friend just got diagnosed with cancer. And I am hurting so much and don’t know what to do or think. First, what is the appropriate way to wrestle with God over this grief? Second, what are some things that I can do or say to show love or provide comfort that isn’t full of Christian cliches?
I’m sorry, both for your friend and you. While you are not going through near what your friend is, this has an effect on you too. Cancer sucks. I wish I had a more profound synopsis than that, but that’s the essence of it.
As far as dealing with grief, the worst possible thing you can do is picture what you think a good, has all their stuff together, Christian should feel, and then try to do that. That will lead to repression, lying to yourself and God, and will give the devil a massive foothold in this whole situation.
The only way to deal with God about grief is with brutal honesty. The prayer of “My friend has cancer, which you created, and you are doing nothing to stop it, even though you could. So what the Hell is your deal?” is a good place to start, even though it might not feel very Christian. God can take your honesty, and He knows you feel that way anyway, so you might as well just come clean. Once you have vented, you will be in a position to hear and be comforted, which you really aren’t if you are holding things inside.
In the second part of your question, you actually hit on the secret sauce yourself, “what are some things I can do or say?” Most of those awful Christian cliches come from a person with a good heart who wants to help, but they want to help by saying the magical profound words that will make the whole situation make sense. No such words exist, so don’t go looking for them. A much better strategy is to look for things you can do to help. You can give rides to the hospital, make meals, bring over movies you guys love and watch them, get everybody at church to write a card, do the laundry, any number of things to make day to day life easier.
Don’t look to be the voice of Jesus is this situation, be His hands and feet.
Don’t, I can’t stress this enough, try to tell your friend how to feel. Romans 12:15 says “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Part of what that means is taking your cues from them. They may have days when they need to vent and cry and be sad, and that’s alright. They may also have days where they want to be goofy, and make fun of stuff, and not talk about cancer at all, and that is good too. What they always need is a friend to be there for them, not with perfect words or answers, but with an open, loving heart.
-Matt from The Bridge