Kind of a crazy week. A dear sister and her husband eerily walking a similar path to what we walked over five years ago. Word that an associate of mine from the past recently lost a daughter who was just starting to live her life. And a friend whose friends suddenly find themselves dealing with the loss of an active 16 year old son to a hidden medical condition. Like I said, crazy. And all this layered onto the stuff we’re working through in our own little piece of this mosaic called life. And don’t even get me going on all that’s going on in the news.
Sometimes, trying to deal with all the suffering, ours and others, can feel somewhat overwhelming. Honestly, I think I can kind of get those who decide to tap out. I understand, at least to some degree, why someone might choose to retreat. To put themselves in a self-directed, indefinite time out. To try out hermit-hood for awhile.
But, while we don’t always have a lot answers for the trials we go through or for the suffering around us, as I start in on 2Corinthians this morning, I’m reminded of at least one answer for our many “Why?”s.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
(2Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV)
Affliction. Also translated tribulation, troubles, hard times. Literally, pressure, a pressing together. A weight on your chest. A burden bowing your back.
And our God, the Father of mercies, is the God who comforts us in those afflictions. The One who alleviates some of the pressure. The One who draws alongside and helps carry the burden. Who quietly speaks words of comfort and hope so as to restore some level of equilibrium. Who tilts the chin upward so that we refocus on things above and not obsess only what’s below. Who provides a sustaining grace and a supernatural power to help us keep on keepin’ on.
So, at least part of knowing hard times is that we would also know divine comfort. And having experienced that, then be available to comfort others who are dealing with the weight of their own sufferings.
Maybe that’s why, when it’s still so fresh and you’d rather just hang out by yourself in a cave, the Lord makes you aware of opportunity to pass it on. To draw alongside others and empathize. To listen with a bit more understanding of what others may be experiencing. To maybe say a word in season that might be used as a bit of balm in the hands of the God of all comfort.
I don’t really know. And, after all, it’s not about me.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort . . .
But there is something about having been comforted that qualifies you, at least in some measure, to being a comforter.
Only by His grace. Always for His glory.