I need to be comforted this week. I “lost” a patient. Actually, two patients. Both mother and baby died, and there was nothing either I or the rest of the 10-member medical team could do to stop it. We were – and are – stunned, shaken, sobered. The loss to her family is much greater than what those of us on the medical team feel, of course. But today I need to find comfort for my own heart. When you work in the medical field you can almost get used to seeing pain, death, and tragedy. But every now and then a particular patient “gets to you.” And this one got to me.

There are moments in each of our lives when we come up against our limits. We encounter something evil, something tragic, something that makes us feel hopeless and helpless – like watching a pregnant mother and her baby die in front of me, and being powerless to stop it even with all my medical experience. Or like the pastor’s family who survived ten years in a dangerous foreign country as missionaries, only to bury their husband and father when a crazed parishioner guns him down at his nice suburban church back in the US. Or like the loss of every earthly possession some of the residents in my city experienced recently in a sudden flood. Or like the accident that leaves one of our radio guests’ husband paralyzed from the neck down.

And then there are those ongoing tragedies that seem to never end. The trauma of a violent marriage. The PTSD after returning from a war zone. The life-threatening chronic illness of a loved one. The addiction that seems permanently attached to someone you care about.

And don’t say, “It’s OK.” Because it’s NOT OK!

It was only a couple hours after my patient’s death that I sat down to try and read my Bible, as I do every morning. I opened to the next chapter in my reading. And in one of those divine moments only God can orchestrate, the first words I read were, “Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)

And in my mind I can even now hear the opening aria of Handel’s Messiah: “Comfort ye! Comfort ye my people!”

We’re all in need of comfort. For all the wonders we can experience in this beautiful Earth God created, for all the joy of having special people to share our lives with, for all the skills we can develop or the achievements we can accomplish or the differences we can make in people’s lives, we still need comfort. None of those things is good enough. Not in the ultimate sense.

As Paul said, if this is all there is – even if it’s good – we’re “of all men most miserable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19)

I don’t know where you need to find comfort today. I don’t know if you need comfort for some heartache buried deep in your soul from many years ago, or some fresh tragedy you don’t know how to get past, or some chronic hurt that keeps opening new wounds even as you’re trying to heal from old ones.

But I do know you need comfort. Just like I do in the profound sadness at the loss of my patient. And just like every human being here on God’s green Earth. Living here in enemy territory exposes us to trauma, and there’s no way we can escape it. Not yet.

That’s why Jesus promised us a Comforter – One to live with us, come alongside us, fill us, teach us, and yes – comfort us. (John 14:16)

That’s why Paul talks about being comforted, in order that we can minister that comfort to others. (1 Corinthians 1:4)

That’s why Isaiah pictures God comforting His people in eternity. (Isaiah 66:13)

And Handel understood that, so much so that he began his Messiah with those very words from Isaiah: “Comfort ye!”

Experiencing God’s Comfort Personally

I read the whole of Isaiah Chapter 40 again today. It’s a look at the trauma we feel in this world, and of how we need to remember how big our God is in the midst of it all. “Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? Hasn’t anybody ever told you? Our God is bigger. He’s alive! And He’s on our side!”

God never says to His people, “Stop hurting! Get over it.” He feels our pain. He weeps with those of us who weep.

And He offers a way out. The ONLY Way out!

As Isaiah 40 so poignantly foretells, and as Handel’s Messiah portrays, God comforts us by coming to be with us. “Emmanuel. God With Us!” (See Matthew 1:23)

Right here, in the middle of our trauma and our confusion and our pain, God is with us! Not only in some far-away heavenly sense, which might have been good enough. But in the very personal sense. He knows our suffering – personally. What gets hurled at us is hurled at Him. The things that wound us wound Him. The cries of our hearts He cries out too! (Romans 8:26)

There are two awesome truths that have been made clearer again to me at this moment when I need comfort. And I hope they will bring you comfort wherever you need it as well.

  • God offers us comfort – here and now. That’s what He personified in sending Jesus. That’s what He provides us daily in the Person and Presence of the Holy Spirit. The tragic ways in which sin has devastated this world and our lives is real. And though we can’t escape suffering – not yet – He is with us in the midst of it.
  • God offers us a way out. This suffering does have an end. If that’s all that heaven is, it would be good enough. All our tears will be gone. But it’s better than that. We will know joy, excitement, intimacy, and fulfillment beyond anything we can imagine. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And only eternity will be truly enough to comfort us permanently.

If you’re in need comfort right now, I encourage you to do these things:

  • Go ahead and weep. That’s part of our human experience on this Earth.
  • Ask for comfort. You need people, and there are those who will be there with you. Not perfectly, but there.
  • Pray. There’s no better way to experience the very real Presence of God as your Comforter. Without Him, any comfort is pretty thin.
  • Remember eternity. Make sure you know where you’re going to spend it.

“Dear Lord, I need your comfort myself today. Nothing short of that will be enough. And I pray that you minister your comfort to each one needing it right now. Amen.”

Your Turn: Is there something for which you need God’s comfort today? Leave a comment below. 

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