My wife and I were falling apart. Our 3-month-old daughter had just coded blue and the ER staff were now prepping her to fly to Children’s Hospital. My phone rang and I heard the voice of one of my elders, Stan Gleason. He was responding to my message and was preparing to go in front of a crowd of several hundred believers and ask them to pray.
While we raced across St. Louis through rush-hour traffic and road construction, our parental fears slowly lifted for no good reason. As we pulled into Children’s, I noticed our nerves were not shot anymore. An unexplainable peace settled over us that would carry us through the next few days of uncertainty about what was wrong with her.
What we experienced there was something I would only understand many years later. That was in 2008. Last week, I finally found a “why” behind suffering.
The Scriptures promise us that God “comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:3 NLT).
Tribulation is a big word, but not so big that you have not experienced it. While listening to Arthur Vanderhoff, II teach a couple weeks ago, I was moved by his explanation of this word. Apparently this is the word used to describe a form of punishment used on Roman soldiers. If a soldier had been disloyal, a large stone was placed on his chest and left there to slowly squeeze air out of his lungs. This “between a rock and a hard place” situation would gradually take his life as he grew weaker and could not lift his chest again to get more air.
You have been through tribulation. You have been through things that slowly crushed the life out of you. But my God is there to take you through that—to lift you up from that overwhelming weight in life. It took a few crushing situations in my life until I discovered that Bible verses like these were not just cute quotes. Once He put His hand on me and lifted that stone off, I got to live what He promised.
Yes, it would be nice if the problems were removed, too, but that is not the point. My daughter went through a series of tests. We burnt through money like kindling paying for hotels and restaurants. I wrecked our minivan while talking on the phone trying to explain to my pastor’s wife details of our daughters progress. By God’s grace, the driver of the car I pulled in front of walked away and the children with me were unscarred (but not unscared).
I wish I could tell you the God of comfort will take away all the bad stuff. However, what I discovered is that He will take away the worst part: that paralyzing fear of the unknown. He showed up that day while we drove up the ramp in the parking garage of Children’s. She wasn’t instantly healed, but He was with us through the process.
God has brought you through some things. You might be going through something right now. Discover Him as the God of comfort. As you learn this aspect of His nature, you will learn how to “be there” for others. God’s plan is for us to comfort others as He comforts us.
Are you bringing comfort to he hurting? Or just Bible doctrine? Did you realize that helping a person heal will give you an opportunity to present the gospel to them? Sometimes just being there is the most important thing you can do. When Tobi Bockman showed up and gave us a ride to the hospital, that was God’s comfort. When Arnold Mangus stood over our child and prophesied life, that was God’s comfort. When he loaned me his Jeep to drive, that was God’s comfort.
Side hug someone this week, and say, “We will get through this together.” Congratulations, you just got a taste of being like God. Bring comfort. Bring healing. And watch who will listen to your witness now.
Please share your story of how someone helped you heal by being the comfort of God in a situation where you felt like breath was being squeezed out of you. How have you comforted others and how did they respond?