2 Corinthians 1:3-5 -- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who 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. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. Well, maybe not all of life’s experiences are commemorated on a t-shirt, but they surely leave their marks on us. Some are physical scars that are visible and evident to others, while some are emotional scars that no one can see. A scar is a mark left by a healed wound. It is a reminder that we went through something terrible, but we survived. Because we survived, we can support and encourage others who face similar trials.
When my daughter was about 3 years old, I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were thrilled. I had dreamed of having a little boy. I wanted to name him Luther after my grandfather and call him Luke. However, that dream ended when I had a miscarriage. We were heartbroken. It was one of the most devastating things I have ever had to deal with. It still hurts to think about it. Everyone did their best to comfort us and I appreciated everyone’s kind words, but I felt so alone and so wounded to the core.
Two things helped me through that difficult time. One was from the word of God. It was a day or two after I was home from the hospital. As I was flipping through the TV channels, something made me stop on an evangelist’s program – I don’t remember now which one – and I listened as he shared about the recent loss of his wife. All the things he was saying about how he had felt really spoke to me. I was having those same feelings. He said he had found comfort in the story of King David’s loss of his first son with Bathsheba. When David learned that the child had died, he cleaned himself up and ate, much to the amazement of his servants. 1 Samuel 12:22-23: And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” This was a comfort to me because it gave me hope. I had lost a child in this life, but I know that I can see him (or her) in the next. Nothing will bring him back, but I can go be with him if I keep living for Christ. We did not get pregnant again after that, despite trying for several years. It was not meant to be, but I have a peace about it. We know we are so blessed to have our beautiful daughter, who will soon be 20 years old, and I do believe that one day I will see my other child.
The other thing that helped me was talking with other women who have had miscarriages. Even though they said a lot of the same kind and comforting things that other people did, there was something about the fact that they did know what I was going through and they did know how I felt because they had been there too. Some of these women had experienced multiple miscarriages in trying to conceive, and I couldn’t imagine going through that pain over and over. Later on, I found that I was also able to comfort others when they had miscarriages by sharing my story. Our shared life experience created a special bond, even it if it was just for that moment. With the same comfort that God gives us, we can comfort others who are going through the same thing, whether it is a miscarriage, the death of a loved one, a break up, a sickness – any trial or trouble that life throws at you.
Hebrews 2:14-18 -- Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus was God, but He was also Man. He was fully human, and so He experienced all the physical and emotional joys and pains that we all experience. He wept when Lazarus died, even though He knew He was going to resurrect him. He experienced rejection and mockery from the Pharisees and others who did not believe in Him. He was despised, wrongfully accused and convicted, and beaten. Are you stressed? He knew all about stress. While praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was so distraught that He sweated blood. God created our inmost being (Psalms 139). He knows us from the inside out and knows how to comfort us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16 -- For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Whatever you might be going through, you can turn to Jesus for comfort. He truly knows how you feel because He has been there, too. He understands our grief, our heartaches, our disappointments and our doubt. He knew that we would make mistakes and struggle with sin, which is why He came in the flesh to do the work that needed to be done for eternal salvation. He came and lived life like we all do, but He did not sin. Not ever. That in itself is a miracle. Yet sin was something He had to experience to complete his understanding of humanity. So how could He experience sin without sinning?
2 Corinthians 5:21 -- For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
1 Peter 2:23-24 -- When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
As Jesus was dying on the cross, the sins of the world were placed upon Him. No doubt this was worse than any of the physical pain He had endured through the crucifixion. While those sins were upon Him, He was separated from the Father. Three of the four gospels quote Jesus as crying out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”, which is the first line of Psalm 22, where David says he feels that God is far from him. Through the crucifixion, Jesus experienced our sin and He experienced death. He knows the full human experience from birth to death, and so He can be the comforter for us no matter what we are going through.
No one is immune from pain, trials or troubles. These experiences make or break us. Those who trust in the Lord and turn to Him for help with be comforted and strengthened, so that they may do likewise for others. Jesus told Peter that Satan would sift him as wheat (Luke 22), but that He had prayed for him, and He told him that when returned to Him, he should strengthen his brothers. We are going to go through the fire, but when we come out of it, we will be strong enough to be a comfort to others. There is nothing so broken in any of us that Jesus cannot understand , forgive and make right, but we have to put our faith in Him alone.
But wait…there’s more. Because we know that He was resurrected, we know that we, too, will live after we die. It’s scary to think about our death. A friend of mine told me that because she knew where she would be going, she wasn’t afraid of death – it was the process of getting dead that scared her. I think that is probably how we all feel. We don’t know what our death will be like, but we do have the comfort of knowing and trusting that because Jesus rose to eternal life, we can do the same. He’s been there, done that. He has the scars to prove it.