Surely, you’ve been in the place where a child was distraught, perceiving their whole as crashing down upon them. What do you do? You comfort them. Filled with love and compassion and no small amount of insight that assures you the whole world is not coming to an end, you console them to ease their pain. You let them know they are not alone and you give them hope. It’s what we do for our children because we love them and want to reduce any unnecessary pain. We don’t want them to be destroyed by sorrow.
But it’s not just for them, is it? Our hope is that they become people who comfort others with great sensitivity and compassion; that they become messengers of hope in a world of despair.
Have you ever considered that our Heavenly Father does the same for you? Filled with such unimaginable love and compassion for his children, he comforts us in times of trouble. Why? Is it because you are so special to him, like your own child is to you? Yes, of course. But there’s more. Just as you comfort your child with the hope of them comforting others, so God comforts us so we can comfort others.
We are blessed in order to bless.
The purpose of blessing is not only to fill our cup but to be poured out into the lives of others who need blessing. It’s the purpose for our lives. (See 2 Corinthians 1:4-5)
Troubles are part of the design of life, so “we might not rely on ourselves, but God who raises the dead.” (V 9) If we had everything we needed and more…how easy it would be to rely on ourselves. But we don’t have all we want or even all we need. We need the resurrection death-defying power of a loving and caring God who comforts and strengthens us in our time of need. We need him to resurrect life-giving hope from the ashes of our grief. No doubt, you well know that our troubles do not always go away when we are comforted. If they did, I suppose we would all come to God only for what relief he could bring, instead of seeking him for who his is. But still we need not only to be comforted but also to be available and usable as a vessel that brings his comfort to others. It’s the design for our life.
How do we comfort others? How do we even know their needs?
Doesn’t it always start with awareness? We can only comfort others if we know their pain and grief. And we can only know this if we look beyond our own happiness and intentionally pay attention to those around us. We notice their sadness, their absence, and the struggles they’re facing. We can only notice by being in the presence of others, by calling, writing, or visiting them for the purpose of listening to their hearts. By asking,”How are you really?” While we can increase our own sensitivity to others simply by paying attention, how much more will we increase our awareness if we pray daily for God to let us see others through his eyes. While we see through eyes of apathy or disdain, God sees through eyes of compassion.
I love the story of the woman who touched Jesus’ cloak and instantly he felt power leave him to meet her need. Isn’t that a picture of who we’re intended to be, compelled to overflow with the comfort which which God comforted us? When I asked one of my earliest mentors what it means to be a real Christian he replied, “It is to bear the mark of Jesus in even my unconscious thoughts.” And if we’re to bear the mark of Jesus in our unconscious thoughts, how much more in our conscious and intentional actions!
God of all compassion, who comforts us in all my troubles, help me to see others through your eyes so I can comfort them with the very comfort you have given me. Even as your sufferings flow into our lives, so also let your comfort overflow and bring blessing.