2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – 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. (NIV)
On the 9th of December, 2007, my father-in-law died. My wife had just returned four days earlier from a visit to her parents in British Columbia, Canada, and though her dad was declining and having some difficulty, his death was completely unexpected. On the 10th, she returned west to be with her mom and brothers. Over the next couple of weeks, we received many, many cards and phone calls, especially from our congregation, and yes, the "casserole brigade" did their thing as well. It is not always easy to accept gifts from others, but today's Scripture passage means a good deal to us as we think of all we received — the expressions of support and concern and compassion.
Why do we share with others at times of grief and sorrow? It's because we have experienced the same thing and know the emotional upheaval it brings.
God comforts us in our sorrow, by His Spirit, through those in our congregations and through friends near and far. Then we take the gift of comfort that we have experienced and share it with others in their sorrow, and the gift keeps on being given. Life after life is affected, and friends are made, both for us and for Jesus Christ.
The sorrow doesn't go away; anyone who has experienced grief knows that. It is not a passing phase or a momentary experience. Grief remains. Sometimes, it sits quietly in the background, but at a moment's notice, a sound or a smell or a photo brings it rushing back to excruciating reality, and we feel that the cycle is starting all over again. Faith and our connection with God helps us cope; trusting in the knowledge of Jesus and the salvation and promise that He gives makes a huge difference. But no less important is the knowledge that we are not alone, that others having the same faith, and following the same Lord, are ready to listen and to share with us.
Let us remember those we know who are experiencing grief. A card, a smile, a hug: such things mean so much.
1 Corinthians 12:12a,26a,27 – The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You comfort us. Thank You for friends, fellow sojourners in Christ, caring congregations, and for Your Spirit, the Comforter. With what we have received, lead us to stand with and to serve others who are grieving. In the name of Jesus Christ, our healer, we pray. Amen.
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