Death was not in God’s original plan, nor was it a part of the life He had planned for us in that beautiful garden. But Adam and Eve chose sin, and death followed. Consequently we all know the grief suffered by every human being since. He didn’t want it for us, butsince we know that God works all things for good to those of us who love Him,[i] it is not surprising that He turns our wretched grief into consolation for others. It seems to be a process similar to our present-day practice of paying it forward. We drive through a McDonald’s lane, place an order, and discover that the person in the vehicle before us has paid for our meal. We appreciate it, and we likely pay it forward to the car behind us, or pay it forward in another manner in the near future. So it is with the comfort and consolation our heavenly Father has bestowed upon us in our darkest moments. When we receive that comfort, we, in turn, can pass it on to others. Why? Because now we understand their pain. That compassion and comfort overflows from our hearts to others. I’ve paraphrased 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, which tells us about that concept:
“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 who are going through any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ, our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for the comfort and salvation of others; likewise, if we are comforted, it is for the comfort of others and it causes us to be patient and to endure the same sufferings of others. Just as we share in sufferings, we share in comfort” (NIV).
Through His Word, Jesus spoke to me.
[i] Romans 8:28 NIV
And Jesus Whispered ~
As you suffer, Kathi, I want you to share in the sufferings of others. As I comfort you, Kathi, I want you to comfort others. Let my comfort overflow in your heart and be poured out to others. Be patient with others as you share in their suffering and in their comfort. Now you understand what they are going through. Turn your grief into consolation for others’ comfort and for their salvation.
In her book, Wounded by God’s People, Anne Graham Lotz described a time in her life in which she found herself in a spiritual wilderness:
“If I could have pinpointed one particular trigger that launched me into my wilderness experience, it would have been my mother’s departure for heaven. Not only did my grief leave me with a feeling of emptiness and deep sadness, but there were many circumstances around the time of her death that seemed to drive me into a spiritually dry, barren, lonely, rocky place. Life just seemed to close in on me . . . One morning, I was especially conscious of the oppression and darkness that seemed to be crushing my spirit . . . my eye fell on this verse: The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.[i] . . . The verse . . . leaped up off the page as I heard God whispering to me . . . Embrace the darkness . . . God is in the darkness and God is in the wilderness. . . . And if I can’t turn to Him there, who can I turn to?”
Anne further shared that some of her pain was the result of her own poor choices; some was due to the emotional and spiritual wounds inflicted upon her by others; but it was the passing of her mother that left her in a spiritual wilderness.
My, how I could relate to her, and I’m sure many of you can, as well. Sometimes life closes in on us. The passing of my parents was not unusual at their age, but compounded by the devastation of our daughter’s arrest, impending prison sentencing, and other wounds. I was suddenly in a vulnerable position that made me feel isolated and separated from God. His Word told me otherwise. He was there with me in my wilderness, my darkest places, and He would never leave me nor forsake me.[ii] I had experienced His grace and His mercy. Now I was experiencing His comfort.
My grief was like the long, winding valley about which C.S. Lewis wrote. Throughout the valley which lay before me, with its many bends, I began to process my grief.
[i] Exodus 20:221 NIV
[ii] Based on Hebrews 13:5b NIV
This post is an excerpt from Chapter 5, “Whispers of Comfort ~ Seeking Peace within This Pain,” in Kathi’s book, When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers. Click here to order.