My father-in-law's birthday was last month, and while we don't always go elaborate with gifts for birthdays, I love to send a little something to at least show that we're grateful that person was born. I asked the three-year-old what we should do for Grandpa's birthday. Here's what she said:
"He can come see us. We can make cookies and surprise him. We can hide them in the 'frigerator."
It never crossed her mind that it might not be an option for Grandpa to drive six hours to come see her for his birthday. To her, this was the obvious best-case scenario. She'd get to see Grandpa and make him cookies to surprise him. What could be better?
As adults, we lose some of that faith. Yes, faith. Instead of just assuming that we can have the best thing, we doubt, worry, fret, and give up too easily. I'm not saying we need to believe things are going to happen that have no grounds. But I'm saying, as a very loose quote of Matthew 7:11, if a three-year-old wants to give surprise cookies to her grandpa, won't our Father in Heaven want to give us something even better? Let's all try to reclaim the childlike faith that good things can happen. Because they can. When did we stop believing it?
The Pain of Learning to Comfort
How many times have you needed to be comforted? As a child, your Mom or Dad was there to wipe away tears as you cried over a skinned knee, bad dream, or hurt feelings. As a teen, you probably needed comfort when the guy you were totally crushing on didn't even know you were alive. As an adult, there are innumerable reasons we wish for comfort: lost jobs, lost loved ones, sickness, losing babies, dreams falling apart, etc. I can't count how many different people have comforted me over the 35 years of my life. And I know I will want more before the end.
While my husband and I were going through infertility struggles and treatments, we needed a lot of comfort. I really struggled with the concept of why we had to go through that. Why did anyone have to go through something so heartbreaking? There were a lot of dark days. There were a lot of tears. There were a lot of rants at the God who loved us through it all, because we couldn't understand why He wasn't answering our prayers the way we wanted Him to. Eventually, I was able to say, "Why not me?" instead of "Why me?" And to a point, I was able to accept the blessing that came from it that I now have a much better idea of how to be there for others who are going through it just like quite a few were there for us.
A few weeks ago, our preacher quoted from 2 Corinthians 1, and it struck me as it never had before. Here's the verses that touched me (verses 3-7):
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Know what that says? That says that we can give comfort because we have received comfort. Know what that means? If we had never received comfort, we wouldn't know how to give it.
I'm not saying that God wanted my husband and me to go through infertility. He didn't want us to have to suffer through that pain. But because we did go through it, He can use what we learned from it. He didn't want us to have to suffer through the pain of losing my mother-in-law last fall. But because we went through it, and received comfort, we can now understand better when others go through similar situations, and we will be able to offer comfort to them. God doesn't want people to have to go through pain and suffering. But this is an imperfect world. So, until we can get to where there's no more hurting, let's rejoice that He allows us to use what we learn from the bad stuff so we can better help those who are going through similar things after us. Because if we had never known what it felt like to be comforted, how would we know how to give it? And if Jesus hadn't come down and experienced what it felt like to be human, how could He be the perfect mediator for us when we cry out to God for comfort? Thank God for giving us such avenues of comfort so that we don't have to go through this life alone in our sufferings.
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.