may want to reach out, but when we don't
know the answers, how do we pass on comfort?
God would just explain this all to me,
maybe I would be able to live with it,"
shared Cindy over a cup of tea. "It's
so frustrating to have to go through all
of this pain, but even more frustrating
to not be able to explain it-to myself
or anyone else." How often I have
felt the same way. I like to live by logical
rules and I like a plan to follow. I belive
that one of the reasons God allowed illness
into my life was so that I would have
to put my plan aside and simply follow
him one day at a time.
verse that is often quoted in churches,
small groups and Christian support groups
is "Praise be to the God and Father
our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion
and the God of all comfort, who comforts
us in all of our troubles, so that we
can comfort those in any trouble with
the comfort that we ourselves have received
from Christ," (2 Corinthians 3:4).
this verse brings people in pain peace,
but other times it brings confusion. How
can we live joyfully and brings others
comfort knowing that we must suffer to
be of any use? There are four clear, simple
steps in the verse that will help us better
understand this process.
We need to have ZEAL for God. This can
be difficult, but the first part of this
verse, "praise be to the God and
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
reminds us that in all circumstances we
have an opportunity to choose to praise
God or withhold our praise. The Apostle
Paul writes this verse while he is going
through difficult times, and he had a
"good excuse" to just skip this
part, but he chooses not to. We may not
all feel zealous about our life right
now, but surrender those feelings over
to Christ and He will take comfort in
It's vital that we realize that God truly
FEELS.* "...the Father of compassion
and the God of all comfort," It has
been said, "Never doubt in the darkness
what God has told you in the light."
God loves you and cares for you, and although
things seem difficult right now, His promises
to bring you joy, hope and a future remain
desire is to bear our burdens and for
all to know Him. He hurts when He sees
the world today. Despite this, our comfort
is not His greatest goal, but rather his
concern is our conformity to be like Christ.
To understand what we are experiencing
and to be willing and able to reach out
to others, we must be able to understand
God's feelings in all of this.
once went to see a speaker who was going
to talk about her experience with cancer,"
Kathy told me. "But rather than encourage
others, she explained how she now tells
people that the only thing that they can
depend on is themselves, because when
it came down to it, depite her faith,
she still got cancer!"
you are still in the process of sifting
through this theology and all of the emotions
that go with your experience, talk to
a pastor or mature Christian that can
help you process them. Don't mistake the
diversion for the destination! If you
are still doubting that God loves you,
you may encounter difficulties when trying
to encourage others about God's faithfulness.
God wants to HEAL us. "...who comforts
us in all of our troubles..." Healing
means different things for different people.
Not everyone is going to experience a
physical healing. Tim Hansel writes in
his book, You Gotta Keep Dancin',
"I was healed when I gave up the
desire to be healed..." God says
he will comfort us in all of our troubles.
so easy to feel abandoned by God when
we can't attend our daughter's dance recital.
It's easy to feel alone while we wait
for the test results. When the doctor
doesn't believe the depth of our pain
and we cry all the way home from the doctor's
office, it's hard to believe that God
is there, trying to comfort us-but He
once heard of a mother who had a "tear
jar," and every time her child would
start to cry she would run and get the
jar and try to "catch" the tears.
She wanted to her child to know how precious
the tears were and she discovered a great
parenting tip along the way-her child
quickly became more interested in the
jar than the tears, and it was impossible
to fill up the jar. This mother loved
her child and although she wished the
tears weren't there, she treasured them
just the same. So too does our God care
and comfort when we cry, reaching out
to catch our tears. "You have taken
account of my wanderings; Put my tears
in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?"
we have praised God, we know that He feels
compassion, and that He comforts us in
all our troubles; we are given a gift
of compassion for others and we want to
pass on the comfort that we have received.
"...so that we can comfort those
in any trouble with the comfort that we
ourselves have received from Christ."
We feel that, despite the unanswered questions
we still may have, God has REVEALED that
there is purpose in the pain. One could
say that, as Christians, we have a responsibilty
to pass on the comfort that God has provided.
By passing on the comfort that God has
given us, we find that a part of His plan
has been revealed.
in the world can replace the effectiveness
of Christians who have been wounded in
the pruning process, speaking and living
authentically," writes Larry Kreider,
author of Bottom-Line Faith. "Although
these people may not understand what is
happening to them, they know they are
part of a grand design."
old Sara was browsing in the toy aisle
as her mother shopped nearby. "Come
on, Sara. We have to go," her mother
called. As they were paying for a few
items at the cash-register, Sara's mom
glanced down at the bulge in her daughter's
shirt suspiciously, just as a bean bag
animal dropped out. "Sara! What are
you doing?" her mother exclaimed.
for Stacy. Tomorrow is her birthday, and
I wanted to give her a gift." It
can be tempting to want to give a gift
without paying the price. But, by living
with a chronic illness and surrendering
each day over to God, you are sacrificing.
And because of your sacrifice, the price
you have had to pay, you have a great
gift which you are called to share. Your
gift is larger than the gift that any
non-beliver can ever give because your
gift is as a result of your faith in Jesus
the HopeKeeper groups of Rest Ministries
continues to grow across the country,
I feel a joy and protectiveness about
my leaders of these groups. I wish that
I could take each one out for lunch and
sit across the table and just get to know
them. As I was reading the other day,
I came to a passage that I felt was perfectly
suited for each hk leader and to each
of you who have reached out to others,
even when in pain.
service that you perform is not only supplying
the needs of God's people but is also
overflowing in many expressions of thanks
to God. Because of the service by which
you have proved yourselves, men will praise
God for the obedience that accompanies
your confession of the gospel of Christ,
and for your generosity in sharing with
them and with everyone else. And in their
prayers for you their hearts will go out
to you, because of the surpassing grace
God has given you. Thanks be to God for
his indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians
one of us has a purpose. We all have a
way in which we can reach out to others.
And along the way, we discover a wonderful
thing-that when we reach out to others
and offer them comfort, the feelings of
joy that we feel in return cannot compare
to anything else. No book or new CD, no
cup of tea or bubble bath will ever give
the peace and joy that you will experience
when you pray for others, and reach out
to them, offering the comfort that we
have received from Christ.
Ways to Reach Out to a Hurting Friend
Remember when all you wanted was someone
to listen, someone who wouldn't give advice
or try to fix it?
how you should pray. Don't assume
that you know the area in which your friend
desires prayer. Ask about what he feels
are his areas of need.
those "tough days"-because she
will. Write down those days that are
devestating for your friend and send simple
cards of acknowledgement during the anniversary.
Don't be afraid to acknowledge that one
year ago she was diagnosed with cancer
by sending a card that simply says, "Thinking
of you today, call me if you need to talk..."
to celebrate! There will be good news
too, and your friend will need someone
to be as excited as she is when those
test results arrive. Rarely do people
understand the impact a simple test result
can have on one's life. So don't be afraid
honest. Say, "I wish I knew what
to say, but I don't. I'm here for you,
though." If you start your sentence
by saying, "I probably shouldn't
say this..." then don't! Talk to
her about what she feels she needs from
505 Ways to reach out to a chronically
ill friend in Beyond
Caseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically