I am listening to Andy Stanley’s In The Meantime Series – Comfort Zone. He is talking about being available for those who have suffered losses of any type. Interestingly I’ve listened to this several times since it was first posted on September 21, 2014. I wrote about this series before and just feel I need to write about it again. The topics I chose to write about usually come to me in a moment. When I sit and think about what to write about, I usually struggle. But it’s the random thoughts that provide the greatest content and meaning I hope to someone.
Andy spoke about what uniquely qualifies one to provide comfort. Those of us who have struggled with something. Whether it be loss of a job, spouse, house, financial security or the worst yet, a child. Those of us who have walked in the fire and have been comforted by God are well positioned to comfort others going through the fire. Sometimes that comfort comes from the direct relationship with God. Other times the comfort comes from someone who God puts in our paths. You may or may not believe that things happen for a reason, but I have seen it in my life over and over. As I look back at the times in my life when I was dredging through a bad time, someone would come upon my path and help walk me through. God has never disappointed me in this way.
While I struggled after the deaths of my mom and daughter, I never believed God left me alone. He strategically placed others on my path who either supported me or walked along side me to lift me up when I could barely lift my head up. They provided the light in the darkness when I couldn’t believe there was light or a way out. Some of you reading this have been there and some of you may be there now. I’ve understood for a while now how incredibly important that support can be to someone who has suffered the loss of a child.
When I come across someone who, like me, has lost their only child, I feel a significant bond with them that is unspeakable. It is without ever speaking it, the most profound comfort I’ve had to hear their story, to understand that I am not on an island alone. I can still remember the relief I felt on my heart when I first read the words of Suze Duke who wrote the book “Grieving Forward”. I had an immediate rush of relief when I realized that she understood me, she understood my pain and that she lived through it. I was in the early months of living this nightmare of grief and her words comforted me like no other. I have always understood that my finding her book, was directed by God. I had been praying fervently during that time for help. I prayed night and day for the pain to lift, for the sorrow to abate. Her book truly gave me hope.
What does comfort look like?
Comfort looks like love. It looks like caring. It looks like time. Comfort comes from all different sources and at many different levels. The degrees of comfort are dependent upon the medium. Whether it be reading the words of someone who has walked in your shoes. Or it could be listening to a podcast of someone who has an inspirational story. It could be a support group of people like you who have suffered a great loss. Simply it could be a friend or family member who sits next to you and says nothing, but says much because they are present. Comfort is life giving. It is tangible to the receiver and the giver.
For someone to provide comfort because they too have lived a painful loss creates a sense of credibility to the one receiving the comfort. It’s like “you get this” when no one else has been able to. Helping a grieving parent understand what their new normal can be like can be life giving. There is a purpose in all of this. To have received this adversity and turn it into a gift that provides promise is profound and takes a while to understand. This is also a critical time to not abandon your faith. There have been many nights when I prayed for God to take it all away. He did not take it away because the death of Brittany was real. But the comfort He provided has made all the difference.
Andy stated “Our capacity to comfort is measured by the amount of suffering we’ve had”. Take that comfort and from time to time, walk with someone who is in need. “There is life on the other side” Do not give up hope. I know I have been blessed by those who have gone before me and I hope to be that light for those who come after me. You never know if the person sitting next to you is a grieving parent unless you take that step of faith and be present if only for a moment in time.
May God continue to provide you comfort and bring a sense of peace now and forever.
Until next time,