Some people need comfort. Some need lots of comfort. Some need tons of comfort. I’ve needed tons and tons of comfort throughout my life. So many losses. So much tragedy. And I cannot help but think of the greatest comfort of all today as a dear friend of mine in the midst of trial after challenge after trial has had to release her precious dog to the Lord. I am reminded of the journey I have taken when it comes to comfort. For just because I have found the greatest comfort of all does not mean I knew all along. I most assuredly did not.
Long ago, I believed grief was intended for behind closed doors – not to mention in alcohol and all sorts of unhealthy places. When I was in college and learned my mother had euthanized my childhood dog, I got drunk and hid from my friends in my room so nobody would be near me and my grief. When I learned that my grandmother was seriously ill and ultimately died, I found the bottle again – not to mention stayed true to my belief that grief should be done in private. No wonder I went to the bottle. I don’t think God ever intended for grief to be done alone.
So many years. So many losses. I would like to say the greatest step I ever took when it comes to grief is that I discovered the comfort of other people, but this is not true. I did, however, manage to go from the one extreme of trying to hide my pain to the other extreme of running to every single human being possible it seemed to help me with my grief. I unloaded, and unloaded, and shared, and shared pain, and hurt, and loss. And I could never understand why their help wasn’t doing much more than helping. The comfort helped, most certainly. But it never reached inside my heart the way the greatest comfort of all has since I discovered it. And I would never discount the vital importance of reaching out to others and sharing grief and receiving the comfort of friends.
But today, at last, I understand that grief is not intended to be hidden behind a closed heart and a closed door. Nor is grief intended merely to be shared with other people where comfort definitely is comforting. Grief, I believe, most importantly of all, is meant to be placed in the hands and heart of the Lord – for He is the greatest comfort of all. In fact, He is the God of all comfort. And the greatest comfort I have found from friends, by the way, is the comfort God gives them to give to others.
Did you know God is not only the God of all comfort, but that He gives comfort to us so we can comfort others? I have received comfort from well-meaning people, but it was not the comfort that comes from God. I have received comfort from people who believe in God, and that was truly comforting. It was God’s comfort distributed through them.
But the very greatest comfort of all, I have found, is when I open my heart (not shut my heart), when I open my door (not shut it), and when I fall into the arms of the Lord. I cry to Him, I share my hurt, I yell, scream, get angry, cry more, talk to Him, pray to Him, do absolutely anything and everything I am led to do in my grief. I pour my entire heart out to Him. And I find when I am all done with the crying and everything that goes with it, there He is. Loving me, comforting me, healing me. And I sigh. And I rest. And I find that place of peace, knowing my heart is His.
I pray that my dear friend today who is grieving, and all the other people around the world who are grieving, whether for a person, whether for a family member or friend or co-worker, whether for a dog or cat or other animal, whether for a dream, whether for anything at all, would run to the Lord and find the greatest comfort of all. The God of all comfort. And should God choose to distribute His comfort to any of these people who are grieving through people, whether myself or anyone else, I pray that those who are grieving would open themselves to receive all the comfort He gives. I pray for healing for hearts everywhere. In the name of Jesus the Christ. May God’s comfort come! And may the grieving open their hearts and lives to receive the Lord, and to receive His love, salvation, redemption, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace, hope, and – yes- comfort!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in [b]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are[c]ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Cor. 3:1-5 NASB