Maybe like me, you felt at times during this pandemic, that you are completely surrounded by sorrow.
Isolation, sickness, financial, or family trouble has brought deep pain into the lives of those we love.
At times, it has been overwhelming, and honestly, I have struggled with just how to handle other’s sorrow.
And therein lays the trouble … how do I handle people’s pain?
Today, the apostle Paul has been opening my eyes a bit with a revelation about Father:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4 ESV
Paul reveals here an important pattern:
1st – God comforts me in my affliction
2nd – I comfort others in theirs.
So if I struggle to say the right thing or to show comfort and mercy to one who needs it, it is quite possible that the pattern is broken. Which I think it is.
What is broken?
- Either I’ve never been hurt so I have never needed comforting.
This for sure is not the case; it is not the case for anyone. We live on a broken planet where no one, absolutely no one escapes pain. We are in the middle of a pandemic, right? This deadly virus and the problems it has caused have impacted every person in some way or another. No, this is not the problem; at least not for me. Maybe it is number 2
2. I struggle to receive God’s mercy and comfort for myself when I am sad and hurting.
There have been days during this isolation where I have felt sorrow. My friends and family have felt sad. Even though these feelings are true and legitimate, I often feel myself and hear from others, “But it could be worse. I still have so much to be thankful for.” Yes, yes we do! God is good and He is good through everything. Yet, the truth is, we are still sad.
So do we think Father will be mad at us if we are sad?
That’s not what I see in Jesus when He went to see Mary and Martha, whose hearts were broken over the loss of their brother. Did Jesus tell them to shape up? Get over it? What did He say? “Where have you laid him?” John 11:34
Show me the source of your pain He asked them and then “He wept.” John 11:35
Jesus was going to fix it. He knew He had the answer and He knew He was going to make everything right in the end, but first, He listened to Martha’s frustrations with Him. (John 11:21) Then He felt the sorrow they felt. Then Jesus went on to the solution for the problem.
I see in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians and in Jesus’ actions toward Mary and Martha:
To learn to be a good comforter, I must first learn to be comforted.
It will be out of the comfort I receive that I will be able to comfort another. We’ve got to fill up on comfort from Father first.
Paul says “so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction.” 1 Cor. 1:4
I do not have to experience the same affliction to comfort another. I have never been incarcerated; never had zero control over my every move, never separated from my family for years on end. I have never had to leave my babies to be raised by another, gone years without tucking my child in bed. I have never feared for my life or the lives of my kids at the hands of someone who is supposed to love us as some of my friends.
But I have experienced my dad dying when he was way too young, experienced the disappointment when my greatest desires have yet to come to past and the fear that everything in my life was falling apart.
And I have crawled up in Father’s lap and had Him comfort me and I can crawl up in His lap again today.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can weep with those who weep so I can rejoice with the same one when she rejoices.
Has the heaviness of sadness been too much at times during this isolation?
Jesus gets our sadness; He understands our pain … and He is not mad at us for feeling it.
Let’s take some time, really give ourselves permission to take the time to come to Father with our painful feelings and receive the comfort He longs to give us.