Passing on the Comfort

September 5, 2018

By Steve Hearts

I firmly believe that God, in His love and goodness, does not cause or orchestrate the pain and suffering that is so prevalent in the world. But a common question is why He doesn’t stop it or prevent it. I really don’t know for sure. There is, however, one thing I am fully convinced of, which is plain all throughout Scripture and has also been proven plenty of times in my own life. It’s that whatever sorrow or pain that God does not prevent from happening to His children, He takes and works it for good.1

I have a friend who is a doctor. I was introduced to him by his sister, who asked me to pray for him, as he was about to have a brain tumor removed. The operation was a success and his recovery was quick. When I visited him at his office afterward, he told me, “I have become a very different doctor now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to be in the shoes of a patient.”

There is no questioning the fact that compassion is an important virtue. The thing is, some of the most compassionate people around are those who have experienced pain, suffering, and difficulty firsthand.

One Christmas season when I was a teenager, I went caroling with my mother, dad, and brother. This is how we met a young woman who’d recently had a still-born baby and was heartbroken over the tragedy. My mother, who had experienced the same thing before I was born, took the opportunity to spiritually minister to and comfort this woman, who was hanging on to her every word.

While listening to their conversation, I found myself wishing that I could help people like this young woman in the same way my mom was. When I expressed this sentiment to her later that day, she said, “In order to truly understand them, you have to have been through what they’re going through, and that’s not easy.”

I knew she was right. Having not yet experienced loss for myself, I couldn’t fully understand anyone in such a situation. That is, not until several years later, when my mother passed away from cancer. The Lord accompanied me through every step of the grieving process. There were plenty of moments when it was all I could do just to get up in the morning and put one foot in front of the other, and through it all, Jesus faithfully comforted, sustained, and taught me. And since then the Lord has used me as His instrument to comfort, encourage, and counsel quite a few grieving folks.

For example, a couple of years ago, my sister-in-law’s mother passed away rather suddenly. The Lord inspired me to write a song called “The Finish Line,” to encourage her that her mother had gloriously reached the finish line of life’s race, and we would all see her there someday. The song served its purpose, also encouraging many others for whom I’ve sung it since. In 2016 I recorded an interview on the Nightlight radio show2 and played the song live on the program. It can be heard here.

I don’t enjoy experiencing pain, loss, or suffering of any kind. But I have come to learn why it’s so important for me to hold tightly to Jesus who, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:4, “comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”3 When I willingly accept and receive the peace, comfort, and consolation Jesus is always ready to give, no matter what I might be going through, I set myself up to be His instrument of these same things to others. The joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment I experience as a result is unfathomable—making everything I’ve gone through well worth it.

Even Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was, as Isaiah puts it, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”4 Because of this, He is able to console, heal, and comfort us today, and forever, like no one else can.

1 See Romans 8:28.

2 Hosted by British broadcaster Christopher Glyn (a.k.a. "Simon" to his listeners). "Nightlight" is a non-denominational Christian radio show that can be freely downloaded and played on any radio station anywhere at any time, with guests, music and inspiration for all to enjoy!

3 KJV.

4 See Isaiah 53:3.

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