Comfort, Compassion and Care

Duane has been a friend since childhood. While our paths have diverged and converged over the years, we have always been there for each other. So when my mother passed away, Duane reached out in compassion and care. I told him that I was a “lock-down” kind of guy, that my tears flow inwardly, but seldom outwardly. Having suffered the loss of loved ones himself, he understood my situation. “Don’t be afraid to hurt,” he urged me. Duane was right: he himself had needed this advice in the past, and now he shared it with me, for I indeed feared the experience of pain.

Through the years, I’ve noticed we hold most compassion for those now incurring the kinds of trials we ourselves once suffered or still are. Personally, my compassion for people in discouraging circumstances is far greater if I have experienced them as well. My heart goes out to children who have lost a father, to adults accompanying a parent down the rugged road of cancer, and to employees who have suffered injustice in the workplace. Why? Because I’ve suffered these hurts, too.

In the mercy of God, pain breeds compassion and suffering grows care. Wrote Paul to Corinthian believers, “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.”1 God is spirit2, so He is able to assure us inwardly with His invisible yet knowable presence. He works through us, as well, to comfort others through outward expressions of care and support. Isn’t it amazing that God would honor us in this humble, helpful way? But He does! In fact, walking others through their difficulties helps us to heal from our own. This is a “God thing.”

So what does this mean for us? When we hurt, we can know that good will come from it. Though we would prefer not to travel the path of pain at all, we know from the past that God will use our pain to comfort someone else today or in days still to come. Then we should not underestimate the comfort we give others, for we are God’s lifeline to them, conduits of His care. Compassion is His nature, and He calls us to go and comfort others. This is what Duane did, and I am forever grateful.

Father of compassion, God of all comfort, point me to people who suffer as I have suffered, and grace me to be your vessel of comfort to them. Thank you for the humbling honor of blessing others as you, through others, have blessed me. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
2 John 4:24

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