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Posts Tagged ‘comforter’

How many of us are ashamed of the chains of another person? Sometimes it’s a looking away or denial of the mistake someone has made and “paying for it” through imprisonment. But there are other chains, like mental illness, grief, illness, divorce, unemployment, and poverty.

II Timothy 1:16
May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.

I was ashamed of myself today as I realized I had lost touch with a woman who lost her husband last year. When he died suddenly, I had every intention of reaching out, of staying in touch, of being present to my friend as she went through the grieving process. But I didn’t. And now it has been a year. What caused this lack of attention? I wasn’t ashamed of her pain, per se, but I was uncomfortable. Grief is palpable.

And then I thought of other women I have left to bear the chains of their sorrow, my dearest friend whose brother died suddenly in a car accident. I didn’t know what to say or do and so I did next to nothing. Another friend lost her husband to lung cancer and it was months before I even sat at table with her. She was bitter at the desertions, not unlike Paul who names Phygelus and Hermogenes [vs 15].

I have colleagues whose teen and twenty-something children have gotten caught up in dangerous and illegal circumstances that have put them in prisons and detention centers. I know these mothers sorrow and I know it is hard for them to talk about it. What am I doing to ease their pain?

Another blogger wrote of the isolation that comes from mental illness and how people fear it, not unlike an infectious disease. The very thing that is needed is an unfailing and understanding presence.

I know, I shy away from so many things I do not understand but I am caught short today by my frozen inaction. Even though I am not gifted in removing the chains of others, I can still give a cup of water and hold a hand. A pastor friend of mine once said that people in grief generally need little but someone sitting beside them. Talk is often unnecessary. But I am all about the talk and the words. Silence in a group is outside my comfort zone.

It’s back to phrases like “life is in the being not in the doing” or, we are human “beings” not human “doings.” Corny but all true. But all that “being” needs to be in a place, needs to be with others who are struggling with their current state of “being” and could use a little support, like Aaron and Hur holding up the arms of Moses [Exodus 8:12].

For all of those whose chains I ignored, I ask you to forgive me. May this day be a reminder and a call to be present in the lives of those around me, chains and all.

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When anything overflows, the implication is that there is more than enough. Although I can speak at great length about my pains and our troubles, I rarely discourse on the overwhelming comfort I’ve received. Why is that?

II Corinthians 1:3b-5
. . . 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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

What travels faster, good news or bad news? There’s nothing like a juicy story at someone else’s expense. Or, it might be a tragedy that is played and replayed on the television. So often, even in sports, it’s the mistakes or the “cheating” that gets the most press. During these weeks the 2010 World Cup is big news and yet, the biggest news seems to be the bad referee calls, faked injuries, and intentional errors.

During the course of a day, don’t we tend to remember the person who was unpleasant and rude more than the polite or sympathetic one? Somehow, the gentle hand never seems to be enough.

Pain has a reputation of being stronger than comfort. Sorrow lays across our heart like a heavy blanket. Disappointment can be a wound that will not heal. Betrayal is the repeated slashes of a knife.

I remember one horrible emotional breakdown I had some time ago. I don’t really remember the source of my cataclysm, but it definitely took me over the edge. I was in full tilt: shouting, crying, and door slamming. My daughter tried to come into my room to “comfort” me and I sent her away. What was I really saying when I rejected her, “You are not able to comfort me!” or “I don’t want to be comforted; I want to feel like this a little longer because I deserve it!”

Despite saying we don’t like to swim in misery, I think we do it more than we care to admit. In fact, swimming in misery can become the norm. Swimming in comfort means feeling better, even good, despite our circumstances.

For comfort to work, it has to be accepted.

Here are some other words for “comforter” in the New Testament: Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby [Amplified]. The comforter is the Holy Spirit and, as we all know and the Holy Spirit is within. True comfort comes from within: the voice of counsel, the voice of solution, the voice of encouragement, the voice of support, the voice of strength, and the voice in the background.

The Comforter has my back . . . if I let that one do his/her job. The comforter picks me up when I fall.

But the Comforter, like Jesus, is polite. Comfort cannot be pressed upon a person. One can always send comfort away.

I am reminded of Matthew 20:32, “Jesus stopped and called them [two blind men]. ‘What do you want me to do for you?'”

The Comforter does not presume. It is sometimes up to me to figure out exactly what is the true problem, what is the issue, what is causing me to feel so much pain, anxiety, fear, etc. This is the first step toward comfort. The second step toward comfort is breath.

That may sound simplistic, but taking a deep breath will often start the healing particularly if it is the breath of God.

My prayer: Open my mind and heart and soul to your Comfort, to your breath, to your spirit. Forgive me for shutting out the Comforter. Forgive me for shutting out the people who come to me in the name of Comfort.

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