wadded up tissues on top of the Treasures in the Darkness book

Ministry of Tears

How do I care for someone in pain? People have asked me this question. I’ve asked this question. And I thought it would be helpful to share advice from Katherine Wolf, who survived a stroke at the age of 26. These are all direct quotations (edited for length and clarity) from Katherine on my podcast last week when I asked her:

“How do you care for hurting people in the midst of their pain?”


There is a deep ministry of tears. We all want to talk about the ministry of truth. And that will come. Absolutely. We should be sharing the deep truth of Jesus to get out of bed in the morning. Absolutely. But not yet. In the moment of deep pain, cry.

People don’t need platitudes. They don’t need a Jesus bandaid. They’re going to need a lot more of Jesus than a bandaid, and the time isn’t right yet for that. The big old bandage they need comes first and foremost through tears, honestly.


Let people witness you with them. Let them witness your with-ness. Be in the room. Show up. Have tears if you have tears. Be a shoulder to cry on.

“Less words are the best words” for moments of suffering.


The very most meaningful sentiment to me in my entire ordeal was five years after the stroke when I had to have an unrelated brain aneurysm removed. A friend said to me, “I cannot believe this is happening to you.”

I felt so seen and known as my own thoughts were, “Yes, I just can’t believe it. I cannot wrap my mind around this. How can this keep happening?” I wanted to say, “Thank you for just not believing this too because it is shocking, and my world is ravaged, and thank you.”

I think we can do that for each other.

Have you experienced the ministry of tears? What would you add to this? How have you felt cared for when you were in the midst of pain?

wadded up tissues on top of the Treasures in the Darkness book

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