For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.Â Â Â Â Â Psalm 48:14 (NIV)
Shortly after midnight last night, my friend, Barnabas, met Jesus and James again in heaven. An hour before, I had stroked his head and told him to â€œGo on homeâ€ and once again, he obeyed.
I have been taught that as a disciple of Jesus that I can count on that Jesus has always been before me on the path I walk. Jesus knew about grief. Yes, He is God. He was also fully man. Matthew 14 says that after Jesus was told of John the Baptistâ€™s death, He withdrew to a private place. He stepped away to grieve. John 11 tells us that Jesus wept outside Lazarusâ€™ tomb. Jesus had the heart of a man. He knew the pain of grief. He also knew about hope â€“ no, He is the Hope of our lives but He also recognizes and validates the pain that we feel in the context of our finite lives.
Grief has as many facets as there are many humans. Each of us grieves in a different way, for a different amount of time, and testify to Godâ€™s healing comfort as we continue to walk forward through the grief. Paul told the Corinthian church (2 Corinthians 1) that we are given comfort so that we may give that same comfort to others. He also said that we share the sufferings of Jesus just as others do. Suffering will be a part of this world but God doesnâ€™t leave us in the suffering. He gives us the promise of His comfort.
We must be a conduit of Godâ€™s comfort. We must be alert to anotherâ€™s grief. The comfort of God flows through a personal note that gives the message that we see and care. Comfort is found in a phone call or a quiet visit that doesnâ€™t bring answers but more importantly brings a listening ear. Comfort is in a casserole or a plate of brownies. It is in a remembered laugh; a shared tear.
People who grieve do not always seek out healing. Many times we try to keep the lid on our pot of grief so that we donâ€™t have to acknowledge it. We shut the door on the pain and firmly lock the door. Grief is a living emotion. It grows as an infection grows in a wound. It needs the healing power of Godâ€™s comfort and truth. It must be â€˜treatedâ€™. It cannot be ignored…for long.
Another conduit of Godâ€™s comfort is in small groups. To ignore the â€˜difficultâ€™ Scriptures and discussions is to doubt the power of Godâ€™s Spirit to illuminate and reveal His truths and promises. Every fellowship should be offering small groups that are willing to address subjects like grief, war, suffering, Godâ€™s sovereignty, and other points that are rarely addressed from the pulpit. They are subjects that cannot be covered in a 20 minute oration. The small groups also have the opportunity to pray for individuals. It is a time to meet the needs of the one through the collected gifts of the several.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. Our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that, since you are partakers of the sufferings, so also are you of the comfort.Â Â Â Â 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 (WEB)