Yesterday in church, I heard Becky Coram speak. She is the wife of the pastor, and as usual (sadly), I was a tiny bit disappointed that Rusty, the pastor, wouldn’t be speaking; he really is phenomenal. But Becky, well, she had this wonderful message that could, somehow, only come out of the mouth of a woman to have the same power for me. She spoke of how God is the God of all comfort, using 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 as her text. She told the story of a time when she felt weary – one of those times when the struggles of life just wore her down – and how a woman she didn’t know on a plane simply sang of God’s goodness and prayer over Becky, bringing her comfort.
I was really struck by something Becky said: she noted that in the 2 Corinthians passage two things are paired: comfort and suffering; she also pointed out that in our culture we often pair suffering and “fixed” instead. Yet, sometimes what people who are in sorrow or grief or struggle most need is comfort, not answers or solutions. I was really stopped and challenged by this idea, partially because I often try to fix instead of simply being with someone and partially because often what I most need is not an answer but simply a friend. God, of course, is always this presence of comfort, when I let God be, but often I crave a person to be that for me as well.
Yet, I fear that we often seek answers and solutions because we want to genuinely help people but also because we want their pain to go away because we don’t want to feel it with them. It is so much easier to take action, to seize control (or to pretend to) than it is to simply sit in the place of pain (our own or others). I know this, but boy, did I need that reminder.
A new prayer is that I will seek to be with those in pain, instead of always trying to find the way out of that pain. I will also pray that I will trust God to heal the pain instead of trying to do it myself. Finally, I pray for the strength to know when I need to sit (like Mary) or act (like Martha).
– “Comfort” by Edvard Munch – How amazing that the man who is known for the agony of “The Scream” could paint comfort just as wonderfully.