In Our Grief – From Comforted to Comforter
There is so much tragedy and loss in the world, and many people have faced more than their share of it. Right now my heart is hurting for a family in our church who tragically lost their son/brother this week, and for the family of the journalist so brutally murdered in Iraq. I pray daily for people who are experiencing all kinds of losses – homelessness, addictions, depression, abuse… The list goes on and on. In my own life, I lost my father, my sister, and most recently my precious niece experienced the loss of a child. It’s all so senseless. We are often tempted to ask: “Why do these things happen? Why did this happen to such a good person/family? Why did this happen to me?”
We don’t know the answers to these questions, so it’s not really worth it to dwell on them. I was talking to an old friend recently, and after I shared what had been happening in my life in the past few years, he said “And yet you still believe in God, even after all of those things happened…” “Yes,” I replied, “especially because those things happened.” Because all I know is that, without faith, there is no hope, and that would make all of our suffering meaningless. Where do we find comfort if we have no faith?
The question remains, though: “What do we do about grief? We all want to feel better, to “get over it” as soon as possible. Of course, those of us who have experienced loss know that the pain never entirely disappears, we just learn to deal with it, and soon our joy returns in other ways. Recently, when I was sharing some of my losses with some coworkers, I realized that some of them have experienced tragedies as well. There are hurting people all around us, and sometimes we don’t even realize it.
One thing that I’ve learned, and that scripture even tells us, is that we are comforted when we comfort others. How do we become comforters of others? We all want to know that perfect thing to say to someone that will immediately make them feel better. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet to erase pain instantly. All we can do is make sure that the person who is grieving knows that he or she is loved – by us and by God. And that we – and God – are there for them. When we help others who are experiencing grief, this means that our grief was not in vain. It provides us with the wisdom and compassion that we need so we can help others.
Helping people who are grieving provides a great opportunity for us to share our faith – which is what sustains us. Faith is a comfort to us because we know that our suffering is only temporary. If we lose a loved one, we know we will see them again in heaven. But what about people who don’t know God? How can they be comforted if they don’t know what true hope is? How can we communicate to people that there is hope in our tragedy? That there is a rainbow after every storm? For hurting people, faith isn’t an option, it’s a necessity. The best thing I can do for someone who is hurting is to tell them that there is hope in Jesus. It sounds so simple…because it is simple.
My faith has taught me that sometimes we have to hurt in order to heal; fail in order to succeed; mourn in order to feel joy. We have to be weak so we can become strong, and sometimes we have to suffer to find peace.
Here are some of the bible verses that I find comforting. They remind me that I am not alone. I have a God who loves me and cares about me. He assures me that whatever I lack, He provides. When I can’t walk, He carries me; when I can’t speak, He speaks for me; when I can’t understand, He clarifies. When I weep, He consoles.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
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.
To me,this passage is so very rich. A lot is said in so few words. Our God cares about us so deeply that he comforts us so we can turn around and offer comfort to others. I like this. If this isn’t enough, God’s Word adds that the more we suffer, the more comfort we will receive. This tells me that God knows what we need and He freely gives it to us. We just have to be willing to accept it.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
We are fragile beings, but God fills us with His power so that we will always have the strength to pick ourselves back up and try again. Alone, we break, with Him, we are strong!
2 Corinthians 12:8-10
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
This passage tells us some interesting things about Paul. He was suffering from something; we do not know what it was. Life isn’t perfect, and just because we serve God, it doesn’t mean we will have less pain. But we are assured that even in our weakest times, God can still do great things in and through us.
Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.
Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the bible. This scripture tells us to be joyful in our pain because the Lord comforts us and has compassion for us. It makes me feel so loved as a child of God!
Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.
We forget sometimes that when we go to heaven, we will have no more pain, no more suffering. Sometimes an early death spares us from some unbearable suffering that we may have had to face.
These are only a few of the many scriptures that offer comfort and wisdom. What scriptures comfort you the most?