Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "He Hideth My Soul"1 (Lyrics)
When I was three years old, I experienced what it was to be lost. Although the details are compiled from old letters, the feelings of panic and not knowing how to get back to my parents are deeply embedded in my memory.
In the early 1950s, my parents belonged to the Swimming Club, a social venue in Singapore where Europeans would congregate on weekends. On Sundays, my parents would set out in their little Austin 8 to spend their day of rest at the ocean. They would stake out a shady spot in an outdoor restaurant area by the swimming pool to relax and meet friends.
My new baby brother slept peacefully in the little rattan basket that I had once slept in. Everyone oohed and aahed over the baby, congratulating my parents and pronouncing him healthy and handsome. I didn't like to hear talk like this. For three years I'd had my parents' complete love and attention, and I didn't want to share it with this newcomer.
I wandered away through the maze of tables and chairs, not paying any attention to where I was headed. Maybe I was subconsciously thinking to get away from the scene where my brother was the centre of attention. I walked farther and farther away. My wandering may have been only minutes, but soon I didn't know where I was. Tables and chairs surrounded me, and I was lost.
Where were Maminka and Tatinek? They probably weren't very far away, but I had no idea how to get back to them.
Eventually my parents found me. I felt their reproach. "Look," they pointed. "We were right over there. Couldn't you see us?" I stared at them dumbly, my finger in my mouth. I couldn't explain. All I knew was the paralyzing feeling of not knowing how to get back. I felt so stupid. Being found was a relief, tempered, however, by the feeling that I shouldn't have been lost in the first place.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (NRSV)
Reacting out of their concern for me, my parents seemed to lack compassion. They didn't know God at that point, so perhaps didn't know how to console me without first scolding me. I have forgiven them for the deficiencies in their parenting; they could express only what they, themselves, had experienced.
Unlike earthly parents, our God is the perfect Father. He is the source of all comfort. Not only does he console us in our troubles, He strengthens us and encourages us. He allows us to go through trials so that we, in turn, can give comfort to others. Let's be sensitive to reflect the character of God to others, and to comfort them with the same comfort that has been so mercifully shown to us.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for being the God of all comfort and the perfect parent. Help us to take this same comfort and use it to encourage others who are experiencing troubles. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.