Four weeks ago, my dad died. During the few days of dad being sick in hospital interstate, travelling for that and also for the funeral a week later and then dealing with dad’s house and belongings, I learnt a lot about myself and helping others dealing with grief. Everyone expresses grief differently.
Timing coincided with five other friends having their parent or an immediate family member die in the last four weeks as well. We have been to a lot of funerals this past month!
A question I have had is what is the most effective way that I can support my friends or someone dealing with grief. During this time, I have valued love, encouragement, generosity, prayer and a listening ear. Everyone expresses grief differently but there are some common elements.
- Our identity – in Christ or in your gifting?
The first of my biggest ‘ah-ha’ moment for me came with the realisation that our identity is who we really are in Christ. Our identity is not based in our gifting.
I had a friend who is experienced in prayer ministry try a method of prayer ministry on me during this time, not at my instigation but out of them operating out of their gifting being their identity. It left me feeling ‘robbed’ and ‘used’ when I really thought she was contacting me to listen to my journey, not probe deeply. I have had another with a prophetic gifting giving me a prophetic word when all I needed was a listening ear and love.
As someone with a prophetic or supernatural gifting, has that become your identity or is your identity still based in who you are as a child of God just with a prophetic or healing gifting attached?
Your prophetic gifting is a necessary function here on earth that is used to build the Kingdom of God here on earth. It is not who you are in Christ. We are not defined by our role but by our personhood and Father.
In your everyday life, do you operate out of who you are as a child of God or out of your gifting?
- The power of praying for someone
My second ‘ah-ha’ moment came with the realisation of the power of praying for someone in the here and now. Over the last several years, I have tried to apply the pattern that I wouldn’t say that I would pray for someone without then and there actually praying for that person out aloud with them. Often over the phone I will pray for someone. This really impacted me several times as I was sharing with close friends during the initial stages of dad’s hospitalisation about whether the doctors could actually operate on him without him dying during the operation or leave him to die. I desperately would have appreciated these friends praying for me over the phone. There was often a long silence, and they may have been praying for me silently, but I would have appreciated being prayed for out aloud over the phone. Those times that friends did pray for me, I definitely felt something shift and happen during that time.
- We are called to love and encourage
My third ‘ah-ha’ moment came with the fact that we are called to encourage and love. That’s it. Love and encourage. It doesn’t matter if our prophecies are not the best. What matters most is our ability to love and encourage well.
1 Corinthians 13:2 says “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
1 Corinthians 14:3 says “But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.”
Encouragement and comfort can be expressed in a variety of different ways – not just in prophetic words. A phone call, hugs, meals prepared (I had never experienced an uber meal before but this was a beautiful gift from a friend), practical needs being met, unexpected expenses covered, animals cared for, a listening ear allowing the grieving person to share, attending the funeral (wherever possible) to support your friend etc are all amazing ways of showing love and comfort. I had a close high school friend, whom I haven’t been in contact with for at least ten years but who lived close to where my dad lived, come to dad’s funeral to show her support for me. That gesture really touched me immensely.
A coffee date especially at the 6 week mark when friends are busy and the person dealing with grief is still dealing with the immediacy of the loved one no longer being present is also great. Expressing love, encouragement and comfort during times of loss can be huge and speak volumes and convey God’s love in ways we may never total understand.
Prophetic people are encouragers. Part of their identity, apart from being a child of God, is that they are true encouragers. They see the best in people. They see the ‘gold’ inside people and love helping to find and unlock that gold so that the person can become all that God has called them to become. Prophetic people are ‘gold’ diggers. To be prophetic yet ooze discouragement is an oxymoron.
How well do you love and encourage those around you?
What is your identity based in – your gifting or your sonship?
Prophetic Activations / Exercises to incorporate into your week:
Every week I list 5 prophetic activations/exercises under children/family, group, beginner, intermediate and advanced. The purpose of these exercises is to help us hear God’s voice in a clearer manner. They sharpen our senses to hear and see and sense God and His way of communicating with us. This enables us to grow in our relationship with God and also to impart to others what God tells us for them. Feel free to use as many of these activations each week as you can. The more you practice, the sharper you become at hearing God’s voice. Enjoy! Remember that whenever you give another person a prophetic word or picture etc, please make sure that it is encouraging, edifying (strengthening) and comforting (1 Corinthians 14:3) and that it comes from a place of love.
1. Children / Families Activation: In preparation, cut out of gold coloured cardboard large round circles for ‘gold’ coins. Give out a ‘gold coin’ to each person and ask them to write a prophetic word or draw a picture that will be like gold for someone. Ask God to show each person who they are writing / drawing it for. Then give the cardboard coin to that person to encourage them.
2. Group Activation: In preparation for this activation, ask group members to bring a childhood photo of themselves. Collect the photos during the session and hand out the photos randomly to participants along with a sheet of paper. Ask each participant to write a prophetic word for the child in the photo they were given. Allow participants 10 minutes to write a prophetic word and then ask participants to one at a time show the group the photo and give the photo and the prophetic word to the rightful owner.
3. Beginner Activation: Try this week to say something encouraging to as many people as you can. Be careful not to say false encouragement but ask God to show you His heart for each person and encourage them in this.
4. Intermediate Activation: Ask God to show you someone who is grieving. Ask God how you can most effectively show love and encouragement to them this week.
5. Advanced Activation: Ask God to bring you into contact with a Foster family or someone who works in the Foster system. Ask God to show you His heart for these children and their carers and how you can most effectively communicate it to them and their carers.