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 Corinthians 1:3-4
My phone rang while I was in Target, and for the first time in my life, I heard my father’s voice shaking. Our family had just experienced the greatest loss we have ever known. I say our family because my sister lost her daughter, my parents lost a grandbaby, and my sisters and I lost a niece. We were overwhelmed with an all-consuming grief. I would leave Target, shopping cart in the middle of the aisle, and walk through the doors of my home to the sticky hands and snotty kisses of my own three healthy babies. How could this be?
The next 36 hours were a whirlwind as my husband and I made plans for me to fly out to my family and secure childcare. I wasn’t even sure if I should be flying there. None of us knew how to navigate this, nor what the “right” thing was to do. Nonetheless, I hopped on the plane. When I walked through the hospital room door and saw my sister, I just held her. I knew at that moment what it means to comfort those with the comfort we receive from God.
It means to be present.
I used to think I had to experience the same loss as someone else to comfort them. But as I read today’s Scripture and remember that moment in the hospital room and the days, weeks and years that have followed, I can better understand the reason it says “troubles” and not something more specific. What does God do in our troubles? He is present. He is with us. He is Emmanuel.
We can’t be God, nor should we try to be. But we can certainly show up. Sometimes that means flying across the country. Other times that means sending a card or dropping off a meal. And it always means remembering. A few years ago, I started adding a calendar notice in my phone on the anniversary of someone’s loss. This way, I can text or call each year and say the name of the person they lost and let them know I am praying for them. I’m also careful to let them know I don’t expect anything from them in response, I just want them to know I am with them.
We don’t have to heap mounds of pressure on ourselves to comfort those with the comfort we have received. We simply need to be present.
- Is there someone in your life who has experienced a loss that you could reach out to today to just let them know you are thinking of them and praying for them today?
- Spend some time reflecting on how God has comforted you in the past. Thank Him for His presence, and consider what that comfort meant to you.