Nov 29, 2016

When Comfort Dies

Have you ever reached for something to hold onto or to hold you in place  . . . .
As if you so desperately needed that something to keep you from floating away, to tether you to this life? Ya, me too.

While I know that as a believer in Jesus Christ, there is only ONE true comfort and COMFORTER, I will confess right here and now that in the dark, desolate and desperate times,  at times I have been guilty of reaching for alternate comfort, instant and vapor like feel goods to soothe my wounded soul. I don't recommend it, but I do recognize it. Ultimately, any pseudo-comfort that we hold onto - even if it is real and good in the moment, yet not from the one true source of comfort - will fall through our fingertips like a swinging trapeze bar that we were never meant to grasp for longer than a second - a person, a pet, a purchase, a purpose.

Shortly after our 20th anniversary in August, he took me to the park where a man was selling furry four-legged comfort and we came home with a 3 month old Yorkie puppy which we named Ray (Star Wars: The Force Awakens - that Ray, girl power! :) In a season of excruciating difficulties that left us wiped, worn and exhausted, I had made a passing comment about wanting a lap dog to just sit with me, be by my side and offer unconditional love as pets are so prone to do. For I was desperate for tangible comfort. While we have 2 ginormous "lap dog" mastiffs already, the thought of having something small hold me down in my still moments of the day had become increasingly appealing.  He suprised me by taking me to the park that day, and we walked off with a month and a half's worth of cuteness and love. Unfortunately, Ray was not very healthy. On her good days she was a hopping delight of comfort. Her presence helped quiet my soul and met me in a vulnerable place.

In early October, after a long night of suffering and my prayers moving from "Please don't take my comfort," to "I surrender her to you - please take her quickly," she died. Her death came on the heals of some very major events and changes in our life. In my agony, I cried to the Lord, "WHY, GOD, would you allow this tiny source of comfort to leave me in this moment - a moment of being so stripped down, vulnerable and low?" I was devastated beyond devastation.

Her death  ushered in a  flood of intense emotion,  becoming an outlet for an outpouring of gutteral utterances for all things that had transpired recently - stifled tears flowed forcefully with wild abandon. Where there had been a semblace of control over the flood gates, there was now none, an involuntary reaction to unforeseeable circumstances on every side. My insides jumped into the boat of emotion like Ray into my lap. A cloud of disbelief hovered over my life: So. Much. Going. On. My little slice of purchased comfort took its last breath as she did hers.

I had no choice and at the same time, the only choice, but to turn back to the only ONE that could satisfy the aching slivers of my broken heartedness. Even my brokenness was broken and I knew it. I clung to Ray but what I needed to reach for was Jesus. Because I have access to the GIVER of all GRACE, I am free to share my fleshy shortcomings without fear of condemnation, and He is always with us waiting for us to turn to Him. If you are reading this and you've ever clung to something other than Jesus for comfort, you either already know or will one day know that whatever that thing is, it will at some point fade away, leave, die, get used up, etc. The time is now to secure your comfort in the only source of it that won't die, Jesus.

In this season of anticipation for the coming of Christ, I submit to you truths about the coming of comfort - the kind that can't be snatched away.

Psalm 119:50 "My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life."

Isaiah 40:1 "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God."

Isaiah 49:13 "Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."

Jeremiah 8:18 "You who are my Comforter in sorrow, my heart is faint within me."

Jeremiah 13:13 "Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow."

Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

2 Cor 1:3 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,"

Phillipians 2:1 "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose."

God can certainly use the things of this world to be a source of comfort to us, but the only way to secure absolute comfort for all of eternity is to KNOW THE SOURCE of it and to ultimately turn to Him to provide it.  All you have to do is confess that you are a flawed vessel, that you need Him in your life to make things right, and He will show up. In fact, He's right there.






2 comments :

  1. I can so relate to your story, Rachel. My last bout with cancer, I was in the hospital for 11 days, 4 hours away from home. While I was there, my husband got word that our Boston Terrier, Joey, aka, the "Best Dog Ever," was dying of bone cancer. My husband couldn't tell me about it, because I was lying in a hospital bed with an NG tube going from my nose down to my stomach. He figured crying wouldn't be a good idea, so he waited until we were driving home. While my news was unexpectedly good after that surgery, there was no guarantee that I wouldn't be back there soon, fighting for my life. AND there was no getting around the fact that Joey would be gone in a matter of months. I took the news well. My husband, not so much... because Joey's death embodied the death of everyone close to him. He saw it as the beginning of the end of his life... that everyone who moved into our house in 2005 (my mother, in her eighties, myself, my husband, and Joey) would soon be dead except for him. And it sent him into a deep depression. Sometimes I think he never recovered from it. Unfortunately, instead of looking to God for comfort, he simply resents Him. When we don't turn to God for our comfort, and when God's surrogates disappoint us (because it's always "when," not "if,"), we are lost in despair. We see no goodness in life. We don't know how to experience joy. I'm so thankful for God's comfort, and I pray that those I love will seek Him and feel that comfort that is always there for us.

    - Jackie Doss (I tried logging in to Wordpress to comment, but blogger is acting up). www.jackiedoss.wordpress.com / www.myministryoffice.com/doss

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  2. Dear Jackie, Sometime when we're back in Dallas, I would love to have coffee with you and know you better :) I'm so sorry about the cancer and about Joey and the deep depression that ensued for your husband. It is hard to not respond with resentment when our world is crushing around us, and a spiritual discipline to rejoice and praise no matter what. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Soggy hugs from the D.R., Rachel

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