All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
I had another ahh haa moment today as I was driving to work, that continued growing as the day went on. I kept repeating this scripture, as it triggered and emotional response in the deepest part of my soul and spirit. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words states that comfort in this verse “combines encouragement with alleviation of grief.” Comfort is used as both a noun and a verb in these scriptures. It hit me that I don’t comfort people, I never have. I also do not give or receive comfort.
As I thought about this, I realized that I could not give because I had not allowed God to comfort me. He is the source of all comfort. It is odd to say that because God has brought me though so many things. I have suffered, but usually in silence or in anger. The interesting thing about emotions is that most people can handle the pretty ones – happiness, confident, silly, proud – they join in with the person. Most people can tolerate when people are confused, a little sad, sick, scared, disappointed – they try to fix the situation of the person. However when people are mad, extreme sadness or withdrawn they tend to keep their distance because what they have to address is going to be messy.
I have been encouraged; God has always placed people in my life to encourage me. I can give encouragement, especially to those who are hurting or feeling hopeless. I have recently learned to ask for help, and been able to receive help. I am most willing to help. I love to find solutions and resources for those who are hurting and hopeless. I have had people offer to be there, and some actually followed through. I can be there. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t spoken in ages or if I am upset with you; if you are in need I will be there if asked. I am great at distracting also. I can help someone get their mind off their grief.
However, I am not a touchy-feely person. I have allowed a certain amount of empathy with those closest to me when they are going through a saddening situation. The standard hug with “I’m sorry for your loss. If there is anything I can do for you please let me know.” I want to be action oriented. I can be a listening ear for someone to process their grief, but even then it is a means to an end. They can talk about it, but then they need to move on with life – sooner rather than later. I have not consoled others in their grief. Nor have I allowed myself to feel when I should be consoled.
As I said, this ahh haa went on through out the day. One of my least favorite aspects of my job is making hospice referrals. I think the service offered is wonderful, it helps families through a difficult time. I have said for eighteen years, I would never want to be a hospice social worker. At first it was “too close to home.” My father had hospice when he died of cancer. They were great, I advocated for the services against resistance. Anyway, I received a consult to make a referral for a patient. I went in and visited with the patient, and as I was leaving the patient said “Thank you so much, you are such a blessing.”
I am very seldom speechless. I said thank you, but my mind said “I just signed you up for a service because you’re dying and I am the blessing?” I talked with God about this for a little while and he showed me my heart, as He usually does. I do not like hospice because I can’t fix it, encourage in it, and when you’re dying you want friends and family not a complete stranger – usually. I don’t know how to respond – I want to pray for healing not let them resolve to die. I am certainly willing to sit and listen – with the patient or the family, but I have no desire to enter into their sadness, so then I feel uncaring. I am uncomfortable with the comforting required in hospice.
Then God brought me to my mom. She is doing well, but she has dementia, congestive heart failure, COPD, and Chronic Kidney Disease (Stage III). She has been admitted to the hospital twice in the past month. I know that one day she will die. She has been ready for that day for some time. She is ready to be reunited with my father and with God. As much as I think that I am preparing myself for her death, I also know that I completely lost it when my father died. I know that I am much closer with my mother. Pills got me past my father’s death until I could function again, and I didn’t function very well on them. Pills also got me through the death of my best friend in 2000 until I could function again. I will need to allow myself to receive God’s comfort when that time comes. He spoke that very clearly to me.
I knew that God was showing me the next stage of my life is going to require comfort. I have learned first hand so many facets of His being, lessons that no one can talk me out of, ever. I know that God is my Provider. He is my Rock. He is my Counselor. He is ever faithful and ever-present God. He is my Righteousness. He is my Banner. He is my Strength. He is my Defender. He is my Peace. He is my Victory. He still wants to be my Comforter.
As I entered in to worship, I was praising God for who He is. Who He has revealed Himself to be in my life. Where He has brought me from. Thanking Him for the impossible situations that He has seen me through. Then again He took me to this topic of comfort. I was brought in my mind to a moment the week before. A dear friend was moving to California, and I was saying goodbye. . We hugged, a longer hug than I would normally allow. At the same time, I didn’t want to let go. I did because I refused to cry, although my eyes were moist with tears. There were words I wanted to speak, but resisted because I did not want to cry. She thanked me for what I had done in her life, and I told her I would mail her a letter as there were things I wanted her to know. In that moment last night, tears came.
And then God ended the night in the fashion that most see as Fatherly love – a little teasing. I asked Him for another word. I wasn’t specific, but I was thinking it would come during praise and worship, a prophetic word spoken over the congregation, or even a personal word spoken over me. Instead He used comfort in the title of the sermon. Comfortable Christian or Dedicated Disciple.
God is the source of all comfort. I know that God wants to embrace me in my hurts, just as my friend had. God wants me to allow Him to speak words of life over me, even in the mist of pain. He wants to comfort me. His comfort is given not to make me a comfortable Christian. God wants me to be able to comfort those He gives me opportunity to minister to daily. He is just waiting for me to stop resisting His Comfort.