“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 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 your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Last night my little baby girl Anna had an ear ache. The moment we pulled into the driveway from ballet pictures she started sobbing “my ear hurts”. And she didn’t stop whimpering about it until I put her to bed. Honestly, I figured it was the barometric pressure from the snow on it’s way and didn’t think too terribly much of her pain because I knew she was tired and really just needed to sleep. So I was encouraging her to push through her pain to get ready for bed. When she laid down her whimper turned more to tears and my heart was aching for her. I knew it hurt but there wasn’t really anything I could do for her. So I laid my hands on her little ears and prayed for her while I sang her favorite song “Jesus Loves Me”. I accidentally sang the first verse twice and by the time I got to the end of the second verse and was starting the third, she was in peaceful sleep. I lingered by her sleeping side, praying for her healing rest, staring into the still tear-stained face, that just moments ago was filled with pain and was now covered in peace. How blissful sleep can be.
It wasn’t even thirty minutes later that she started crying in her sleep. That’s when reality really started to sink in for me. She hadn’t been crying from fatigue and a little pain, she had been crying from real pain! My tough mom heart broke into a million pieces when it hit the floor. No longer aching for her it was crying out with her! I was desperate! How could I make her pain stop? I prayed with more sincerity “LORD! What can I do for her??? She’s really hurting!” His reply? “Nothing, she has to go through this.”
Her sleepy cries of pain eased momentarily and I scrambled to get ready for bed myself. I put pillows and a blanket on the couch and turned down all the lights in the living room so that when her cries rose again I could be there for her. While I couldn’t make the pain go away completely, I could hold her in her sleep, comfort her just by knowing I was enduring the pain with her. Making SURE she didn’t feel alone in her pain.
At about a quarter to nine, just as the make-shift bed on the couch was prepared, her tortured cries of pain started up again. (And I’m not exaggerating when I say tortured either, because that’s what it was, torture, for both of us.) I scurried into her room, where my own tear-filled eyes found her covers already askew from her flailing. My poor precious baby!!!!! I snatched her from her lonely bed and clung to her ever lengthening frame. Her toes, once upon a time only come to my breasts, now hanging down past my knees, swung gently back and forth as I carried her limp and exhausted body to our place of mutual rest and suffering for the night.
As we lay down belly to belly together, she snuggled her head into the familiar comfort of my chest, still sobbing, but maybe not quite as loudly as before. Sean came up behind me and just stood watching the two of us for a moment before he went out on his run. Huh, I didn’t think of it at the time, but he was possibly more tortured about all this than I was. I moved so quickly to comfort her myself that he never got a chance to even blink let alone move to help! There’s nothing like wanting to help someone and you can’t. You feel useless. (I’m sorry Beloved!) Seeing that everything was being done that could be, he turned around and went for his nightly run. A few minutes after he left Anna began writhing in pain, unconsciously kicking me and wailing. I held her tightly, letting her know “Mommy’s here” and softly praying over her head, and eventually the pain ebbed from her body, her muscles relaxed and she was at peace once again. After that her cries and writhing started lessening each time – Thank You God!
Around eleven Daddy came back into the living room. He gently touched my outside arm to wake me up and asked “Want me to take over?” His turn to help had finally arrived. He pulled back the blanket and gently lifted her from on top of me into his loving gentle arms. “She’s hot” he said, “I know” I answered. He situated himself in his recliner for the night as I headed off to our own luxuriously large bed all alone, well, with the cat.
As I snuggled myself down under the comforter I prayed for them both, that they would rest well and realized that this is precisely what Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. The God of all comfort. There are trials and pains that we just have to go through in life, for one reason or another. Things that God is using to ever so lovingly mold and shape us into the creation He wants us to be. And during those times He is desperate to comfort us, in any way that He can without ruining the purpose of the suffering. He hears our tortured cries and He starts preparing things to comfort us immediately. He moves into action immediately, He does not wait. He doesn’t even wait for us to ask Him for comfort, because many times we’re asleep to the fact that we even need it. Jesus lays His loving hand on our heads and prays for us and our complete healing. Not just the easing of the pain, but HEALING. And when we cry out, He lifts us up out of our lonely bed of suffering and moves us to a bigger bed prepared for mutual suffering. A place where He can hold us, soothe us, and pray over us all night long through our moaning, tears and fitful sleep of agony. And right at the eleventh hour, the Father comes along and tells Jesus it’s His turn now. And so the Father comes and lifts us from Jesus’ arms into His own and carries us to His throne (you gotta believe He’s got the BEST recliner in ALL of history!) where we lay with our ear pressed to His chest for the rest of the night until we wake up feeling strangely better and He asks us, “Are you ready to go back to your own bed now?” and we walk painlessly back to where we started the night. Healed and happier having slept through the whole thing… sort of.
I looked up the verse “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”, and looked up the Greek for the word “comforted” and I am so pleased with what I found! Parakaleo is the Greek word translated as “comforted” here and it’s Strong’s definition is (a) I send for, summon, invite, (b) I beseech, entreat, beg, (c) I exhort, admonish, (d) I comfort, encourage, console. Now I don’t know about you, but when I read that definition the thing that strikes me more than anything is the personal nature of the word. I send… I beseech… I exhort… I comfort, the person speaking the “parakaleo” is the one who is personally doing the action. They’re not talking about someone else performing the action for them, THEY are the one doing it. In Matthew 5:4 where we find this verse, it isn’t just anybody saying these words, it’s Jesus Himself. Jesus was telling His disciples, and us, that when we are comforted, HE is the one doing the comforting. He is the one who sent them your way. He is the one comforting you through that other person, being His hands and feet. He is the one holding you through that dark night. He is the one wiping all your tears away from your face and making it all better.
Isn’t our God AWESOME!?! How can you not love a God like that?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-12
“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him, and He saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” Isaiah 25: 8-9
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3
“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thansgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon – from the Mount Mizar. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. By day the LORD directs His love, at night His song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life. I say to God my Rock, ‘Why have You forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?’ My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42
“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23