It happened suddenly. Bam! Bam! Bam! Within a matter of days each of my children experienced one, and in some cases a few, devastating losses. By association, all six of us entered a season of suffering. It’s one thing when I am personally affected, but it’s a whole other suffering when you see your adult children go through tragedies, and there’s nothing I can do to manipulate, nothing I can do to take it away or even ease their pain.
I’m about 6 months away from those tragic events. It’s still raw. There’s still scabbing on the wounds, and when I get impatient and try to remove it, the wound is bleeding again.
Kelly Minter’s Bible study “All Things New” took me on an adventure of healing through the letter of 2 Corinthians. From the very start of this letter, the apostle Paul writes about suffering and comfort and God being present in it all.
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
You cannot even imagine what these words did to my soul: God is the source of all comfort. Honestly, if that was all God wanted me to know, that could have been it. I was good with that. It gave me the strength, the motivation to move on, not to give up or to give in.
It’s reassuring to know God is comforting us in our sufferings. But the interesting purpose of our suffering is that we can understand the pain of people around us who suffer as well. See 2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT:
4 He comforts us in all 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.
Our troubles, our devastating losses have a purpose. That is often hard to understand, and even harder to believe when a death is involved. We mourned this death like never before, and in some strange way we also mourned previous deaths.
I don’t have to imagine what it feels like to lose a child, and now also a grandchild. I know.
I don’t have to imagine what it feels like when wedding vows are broken. I know.
I don’t have to imagine what it feels like to be abandoned with three children under five. I know.
I don’t have to imagine what it feels like to be betrayed by your child and to lose the trust. I know.
I don’t have to imagine what it feels like when your child is suffering, and you can’t do anything about it. I know.
Because I know, and because I have suffered myself, there is a responsibility to help and comfort others.
To be honest, I didn’t want to talk about my divorce, my messy journey as a single parent and all the baggage that came with it. I didn’t want to help others for a very long time. Lord, forgive me!
Looking back, I can see God giving me a stern talk: “Meggie, enough of your silent suffering. I have comforted you all these years. Now it’s time to get up and help others.”
A few years ago I started meeting women who were suffering in very similar ways I had suffered. There were many “me too” moments when we exchanged our stories.
Healing starts to take place when we extend comfort because we received it ourselves.
God, you are present in our suffering because you are the source of all comfort. Thank you for your comfort during my own suffering. And because I received an incredible amount of your comfort, may I never withhold comfort from my fellow sufferers. May I be always ready to comfort people you put in my path. You, Father God, shower us with your comfort. I am eternally grateful. Just grateful.