As I sat across from a new dear friend almost 28 years ago, she shared this passage with me as she grieved the loss of a baby. As she shared that the God of all compassion and comfort gave her hope and strength as she suffered, I found myself desiring to know this type of compassion and comfort. I shared in her suffering and in her hope. Peace covered us.
This morning I shared this passage with a pastor friend in Africa as he seeks to minister to one of his leaders. This leader left his former church to be under my friend because he recognized that the teaching is deep and real. At his previous church, he was paid to preach but in his new church and leadership position he would preach truth but not be paid. He decided that teaching the truth was more important than pay.
Yesterday, after he finished preaching the new leader and his wife took their one year old girl to get her immunizations. She went to sleep after and never woke up. Now my pastor friend must lead a funeral service today for his new leader's family.
Grief is a beast. But comfort and compassion overflow. They give us hope. This can only happen if we are vulnerable enough to share in our sufferings. I am beginning to call this in my life the vulnerability of compassion.
Shared sufferings means that I must share the truth of my sufferings so others can pray. As we seek God, He will pour out His comfort and compassion in us and through us so that we can pour it out into others. A shared suffering is an easier suffering to walk. We all need help in our sufferings and prayer shows that we are not relying on ourselves but in God alone.
This past weekend as Greg and I went to move my parents God overwhelmed me by the goodness of shared sufferings. But He also poignantly revealed to me that it always requires vulnerability. As Papa wept in our arms because he is lonely and tired of therapy it hurt so much. As Mom wept over Papa's pain, I felt her suffering deeply. As Aunt Janie cried because she can't fix this and make their pain less I cried, too. But after we shared our pain and wept, we experienced the reality of the comfort that overflows. Peace covered us and compassion overwhelmed me.
As each one of us were willing to be vulnerable and share our pain, we knew the release of shared suffering. As we prayed together, we experienced the hope of salvation help us to stand firm. As I reflected and processed with my family, I knew that our Gracious Giver was giving us great favor. So this morning as my pastor friend shared, I was able to let the comfort and compassion of a shared suffering overflow.
Where might you be suffering today? Have you shared your suffering with the One who pours out all compassion and comfort? Do you know the hope of salvation in your suffering? I know it requires vulnerability to share, but shared sufferings gives us hope. The kind that helps us stand firm even as we suffer.
Beloved, you are not alone!