He comforts us in any kind of affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4
It has been a little over 8 years since my mom died. I remember all the comfort my relatives extended to our family. They too were hurting and in such sorrow, but they saw past themselves and came to comfort us. My dad would be at the hospital with my mom, so one aunt and uncle kept their dog. Another aunt and uncle did his laundry. Friends and family traveled a ton of miles to surround us with such love. Cards poured in with words of comfort. Dear friends brought over meals, called and texted often with comfort. Each was such a selfless act and even more appreciated as the years have gone by.
All this came to mind this morning while I was reading my New Morning Mercies devotional. Paul David Tripp wrote, “God puts you in hard moments when you cry out for his comfort so that your heart becomes tender to those near you who need the same comfort.” As a parent, nothing frustrates me more than when one of the kids does not go back and help a younger sibling. On the flip side, it brings me such joy when an older kid comes alongside a younger one to tell a bit of what to expect and how to navigate unknown circumstances or to offer help. It is fun to see their relationships become one more of building up than tearing down. I get a glimpse of maturity and security when they make this choice. I pray they never get so into themselves that they forget the grace they were given in their time of need.
When we are in a hard place, whether it is our fault or not, having someone beside us that has “been there” can make all the difference. If you are the “been there” one, in my opinion it can stir such gratitude in your heart to God. He was beside you during that hard time, carried you through and now sends you back to do the same. How amazing that He would use you and your suffering to not only bring Him glory, but to comfort one of His dearly loved children. Can you think of anyone who might need you now?
Tripp made several convicting points in my reading this morning. “Sometimes we are quicker to judge than to comfort.” I remember one lady telling me if my mom would have done… then she would have lived. That did nothing but stab my heart. I wish I would have responded, “The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21) and sent her along the receiving line at my moms funeral. Only grace given by the Lord gives us eyes to see those who need true comfort that we have experienced. It may be possible that this woman did not know comfort yet. “When we have named ourselves as strong, wise, capable, mature, and righteous, we tend to look down on those who have not achieved what we think we have. So God humbles us. He puts us in situations where our weakness, foolishness, and immaturity are exposed.” (Paul David Tripp). I know the valley of humiliation and I am thankful for the lessons it has seared on my heart. Judgement is not my job as I once thought it was. Praise God!
Sometimes I wonder if we were more open with our struggles and louder about how God gave us grace and comfort, maybe people would come to us more. If we are seen as perfect and having it all together, we may be viewed as unapproachable. It is those who are honest, loving and humble that make wonderful comforters. If our stories were known more in our churches, maybe when another has heartache, they will know whom to ask to come alongside them. Maybe we need lists of emergency contacts printed in our church directories for times when comfort is needed. What would be beside your name?
The other night at dinner with friends, I heard my husband offer help to another person who is struggling in ministry. My husband has been there and would have welcomed someones help. I love that about him. He is a wonderful comforter, encourager and friend. He does not pretend to have all the answers, but is quick to recognize need. In his quiet way, he either takes care of the problem or walks side by side on the journey. I have watched him do this with our kids, with me and with friends. How wasted our lives can be if we are not meeting needs of others with what the Lord has given us. May we never waste an opportunity to go back and comfort, to meet a need, offer a word of encouragement, pray and sometimes just sit quietly beside someone. Seems just the thing Jesus was found doing when He walked this earth. Should we not be doing the same? May we each spend today with eyes and hearts on Jesus who is an incredible example.
P.S. Happy Birthday Damon! You are one of a kind and our family is so thankful for you!!