Love hopes all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
One commentator writes on this passage, love hopes “what is good of another.”¹ Church father Augustine of Hippo also understood 1 Corinthians 13:7 in terms of “‘believing the best’ about all people.”² When others have sought to comfort me about the loss of my daughter, whatever they have said, I have learned to hope all things about their intentions.
I have looked to their caring and questioning eyes as they wonder within themselves if what they have said would be accepted by me in grief. And I have noticed their care and willingness to abandon comfort for the sake of trying to help. Whatever their words, I have received all of their love.
Those who grieve are often a conundrum, not only to those on the outside of grief circles, but also to themselves. I don’t have answers within myself for this kind of pain; I don’t fully understand my own heart. When C.S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed about the words of other people, he revealed the enigma: “I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they'll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate if they do, and if they don’t.”
Those who grieve often do want people to say something, to acknowledge the loss, the intensity, the gap, the pain. But if I am honest—could I not nearly always find what other people say lacking? Is there a perfect phrase? No human words or actions could bring my daughter back to me—this loss is not a problem others’ words can solve. No merely human words can withstand the high pressure of grief. Only the God who called light into being from darkness could one day call relationships severed by death into wholeness.
Yes, there have been more-helpful-than-not words others have offered me. There are talks and phrases from the earliest days of grief that are still memorable for me—that I hold near. And I do see the value in, at times, relaying those helpful perspective to others who want to know—who want to grow in blessing the grieving people/communities they have in their lives.
But for the present moment, I am going to refrain from giving the list because I am writing for a series called “What I Wish You Knew.”
And from the “inside” of being a griever, what I have personally always wished those on the “outside” knew—what I have wished that they would fully take to heart—is this: friends and family, if you have ever sought to comfort me, thank you. If you have ever sought to bless and encourage me, while having wondered if it was said or done correctly, thank you. You have helped; I have heard your words, and I have dearly appreciated that you spoke them. I saw your eyes, noted your tone. I saw your concern; I have fully received your care for me.
Friends and family, I noticed your promptness to reply right away after you heard the news—the promptness an acknowledgement of the shock of the loss. Or I saw that you waited months to send me anything or say anything because you were at a loss for words—the wait an acknowledge of the intensity of the loss. You have all been different, but I took all that I saw from you into my heart; I welcomed your love. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
And now, to those who are grieving and reading these words, I encourage you to hope the best about those on the “outside” of your grieving circles too—to receive all of the concern that you can possibly decipher, even if it is between the lines of others’ words. With that desire, do you think more people would approach you—taking that step outside of what is comfortable for them? And do you think you would be able to receive more comfort from a greater number of people in your life?
Love hopes all things.
¹Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fauset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 289.
²Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 1059-1060.
This post was originally published at Hope Mommies.