1 Corinthians 1:3-4 (New Living Translation)
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 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.
Walking along, you’re thinking that your life is falling apart. You’re struggling just to put one foot in front of the other, and you don’t know which direction you should go next. Then you see someone you know coming toward you. When they get near, they say, “Hi! How are you doing?”
Your automatic response? … “Fine, thanks!”
Why do we do that? Why do we pretend everything is okay when it’s not? Now, admittedly, it’s not always appropriate to answer bluntly. Not everyone wants to hear a list of our woes. But it is so important to have people you can trust with the full story. The job loss. Grief over the death of a loved one. Illness. Worry. Anxiety. Doubt. Loneliness. When we’re not willing to confide in someone — when we’re not willing to be honest and vulnerable — we’re depriving a friend of an opportunity to help and support and love us.
I know this from experience.
After my final miscarriage, when my boss asked me what I most needed, I told him that I just needed to get back to work at the church, and not to talk or think about what had happened. After a few days of recuperation at home, I walked back into my office and dug right in.
It took a while — probably a few hours — for me to notice how strangely quiet the church office complex was. Usually people would be in and out of my office all day, dropping in to share a cup of tea or to chat. That day no one came in. But that was okay, as I didn’t really want to talk with anyone. Then I noticed my assistant walk by my door, crying quietly.
I realized in that moment what I had done to the church staff I loved. By not allowing them to express their sorrow for me, I had taken from them the ability to show me love. That was a terrible thing for a pastor, for a Christian, for a friend, to do.
I got up from the safety of my desk, walked to the office next door, and gave my assistant a big hug. Then I spoke with each of the staff. We cried together, and we healed together.
In the years since that important lesson, I have seen how as we heal and strengthen and grow, God does something amazing with our difficulties. God turns them into opportunities to help others. Just as we have been comforted in our time of need, we in turn are able to offer comfort to another person. Our troubles are transformed into something healing and useful. What a joy!
Jesus suffered greatly, far more greatly than you and I are likely to in our lives. Not a moment of Jesus’ life was wasted, including those last painful moments of his earthly life. No, indeed! Those very moments became the pivot point for humanity — the point at which hope for redemption became a powerful reality.
Who is the person (or people) in your life with whom you can you share honestly about how you’re doing? To whom in your life are you able to give the gift of a compassionate, caring ear?