Comfort is an experience. When we grieve most of us are showered with well-intentioned words meant to comfort us in our loss. Yet sometimes words hurt more than they help, especially the platitudes, clichés, and pronouncements that inadvertently trivialize the death of the one we love and compound our grief. What we realize is that in an instant of finality, death strips us of our worldly self-sufficiency and leaves our spirit vulnerable to every suggestion of our need for a more profound comfort, far beyond casual greeting card sentiment.
If comfort is an experience, how do we feel it? Most who grieve turn to those they love for comfort. Your comforter may be your your spouse, a friend, or anyone with wisdom and spiritual insight into your soul - someone who really knows you. When we entrust the pain of our grief to others, our emotions are fragile and our expectations are high. We’re easily disappointed when we sense that someone who loves us doesn’t understand our loss. But really, who can?
No one can comfort us perfectly. Over time we learn that human comfort – even the most loving, sensitive, caring comfort – is largely of the moment. It’s hard to capture and hang onto. We hear the words, we feel the intent, yet deep comfort doesn’t always seep into our soul.
How, then, do we access the soul-satisfying comfort that quiets our heart and strengthens our spirit? We believe the assurance that God is at work in our lives to comfort us through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Great Comforter, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Comforter, who will never leave you” (John 14:16 AMP).
A few months after my beloved husband died, I was at a gas station late one afternoon filling the car. A stranger approached me and introduced herself. She knew me, but I didn’t know her. My instinct was to withdraw, yet her words touched the deepest place of my grief. She said that my name had been on her heart and that she was praying for me. It was a powerful moment. A complete stranger dared to reach out and enfold me with her spiritual care and comfort. As she silently turned and left, I felt I’d encountered an angel. Since then, there have been other experiences in which God has used others as agents to assure me of God's abiding presence and unfailing comfort, especially to those who grieve.
The word comfort is from the Latin phrase com fortis, meaning “with strength.” To be comforted is to be made strong. When we grieve, our sorrow is transformed into strength and life-sustaining comfort through the love of God that holds us close and restore us to life beyond our grief.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV
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