Accompanying the Hurting by Offering Our Brokenness

These past few weeks have been filled with shock and grief after the sudden death of my sister. We, her family, are broken. My healthy, 61-year-old sister tripped and fell—so how do we make sense of that as the beginning of the end for her? We are riding the waves of grief, trying not to drown.

When we love much, we grieve much. And grief comes in many forms—the loss of a dream, a job, a relationship, a pet… And a beloved sister. We often struggle to know how to walk with those who are suffering. Too often we forget that grief is a process and it’s different for all of us. We are living out the love of God when walk with those who are suffering, remembering that their pain endures beyond the initial loss, and that the suffering can be paralyzing.

Help for the Broken
Walking with those who are grieving is about listening, allowing them to tell their story of loss (as many times as they need to tell it). Too often we try to bring comfort with words that we think will help, or we try to fix what is broken because we don’t know how to direct our compassion. But the greatest gift you can give is to sit with the grieving with a heightened sense of presence—a silence that communicates compassion.

At the Pool of Bethesda near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there were many blind, lame, and paralyzed people—a human tapestry of brokenness and grieving. A man had been languishing there in despair for 38 years. Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be well?” Lately, I’ve been wondering how might this text be an invitation for the faith community… 

How are we likewise blind, lame, and paralyzed to those who are languishing in their own despair? Jesus invites us to get up and walk, calling forth our trusting reliance on Him who walks with us, and empowering us to be His hands and feet in a broken world. It is this faith that makes us well. It is Christ’s love that renews our spirit and calls us to walk with one another.

The Core of Compassion
Life is full of pain, struggle, and brokenness. And suffering can open our hearts or close them. It’s a choice. St. John of the Cross says: “I saw the river over which every soul must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven, and the name of that river was suffering: and I saw the boat which carries souls across the river and the name of that boat was love.”

It’s important to remember that compassion for others begins with self-compassion. I have often wondered why we struggle to love our neighbor—might it be because we don’t love ourselves in the way we’re hoping to love others? The second great commandment, we. Remember, is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Living in a compassionate way requires intentionality, practice, and patience—just as Jesus practiced. If we have compassion for ourselves, we become a healing presence for others just by listening, sitting, and accompanying each other.

To Ponder:

  • How are we as individuals and collectively as communities of faith pursuing an accompanying relationship with those who are grieving, offering compassion and love with our attuned presence?
  • Prayerfully read John 5: 1-9 What spoke to you as you immersed yourself in this text?
  • How is God nudging you to respond? Your faith community?
  • What might be your first faithful step to living as a compassionate presence with others?
  • Notice the last phrase of the text: “Now that day was a sabbath.” How will you practice sabbath-keeping? Sabbath is a day of healing. Remember to rest and renew, so you can love and live well.

If you would like help as you explore what it means to shift your congregational mindset from “fixing” brokenness to “accompanying” those who are broken, reach out to connect with a Vibrant Faith Ministry Leadership Coach. Just CLICK HERE for more information. Coaching is an intentional process that moves you forward into the future you long for.  

Tammy Devine is 
a Professionally Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coaching Federation. She’s an End-of-Life Coach, Spiritual Coach, Positive Intelligence Coach, and Boundless Compassion Facilitator. She accompanies leaders, congregations, and teams in coaching relationships targeted at formation, listening skills, and healthier working relationships. She serves on the Leadership Team for Vibrant Faith’s Leading Well ministry, and the Life of Faith Initiative. She’s a member of the DEI team for Boundless Compassion.





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