John was born with cerebral palsy and no Achilles tendons. His mother was a drug addict and his only use to her was to provide a clean urine sample when she needed it. His father never came around because he was embarrassed because his son was “a cripple.” His grandmother raised him until age 4 when she died. A lifetime’s worth of devastating losses before he was even old enough to understand all that was happening to him.
As Pastor Chad embarked on his message series on “Loss,” he began by recounting the two miscarriages they had endured this past year, a topic not often talked about even though 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. We all experience losses throughout our lifetime, but we all handle them differently. Some people just complain about everything all the time. On the flip side, some people never open up about anything, everything is always “fine,” stuffing their feelings deep inside their inner vault and will never express what is going on inside them.
We need to have a balance. If we are struggling we need to share our struggles and get help. Not just complaining but recognizing we have an issue to be dealt with and seek out someone who can understand our situation and help us.
The Apostle Paul was an example of this. He was out telling people about Jesus and faced intense persecution because of it. In his writings to the churches he was very personal about how he was handling his troubles and expressing his own struggles. He was under great pressure, like a heavy weight was on him. He was not sure he could get through it, it felt like he would never get out of it, almost like he was going to die.
There will always be a lot of critics. Many will say, “It’s not that bad.” But Paul said we should praise God who is all comfort. In essence, what we think about God is important. We should not be woefully asking God why He is letting these things happen to us but expectantly thinking about God, who He is, and what great things He has in store for us.[bra_blockquote align=”]We should not be woefully asking God why He is letting these things happen to us but expectantly thinking about God, who He is, and what great things He has in store for us.[/bra_blockquote]
Often, God is teaching us about compassion. He offers it to the world. We are able to experience and show compassion because God is compassionate. As God helps us through our difficult times, our struggles, our troubles, we are able to learn and then come along side and comfort others as they face similar difficult situations.
Paul is forcefully emphatic as he points out that God comforted him and he will help YOU and comfort YOU as well. When God allows things; He is there to comfort us no matter what it is. Often, the reason God is doing this is so we can comfort others. Paul goes on to say that the reason he is bearing his soul, telling us about his troubles, is to show that God is the originator of comfort and no matter how hard our circumstances may be we have the guarantee of God’s comfort.
In many cases, a little boy like John would have gone into “the system” and likely into some type of unfeeling impersonal institutional situation. Fortunately God had prepared a widowed family friend who took him in as his own, adopted him, cared for him, helped and comforted him through his painful therapy and numerous surgeries, and taught him never to give up on himself. But then, on John’s second day of Junior High they learned that “dad” had lung cancer and then a short while later died—another crushing blow to this young life.
John promised to honor the man who gave him his new name by graduating from college, a seemingly impossible scenario. But, while experiencing what John sees as the darkest time of his life, he became friends with the star of the football and basketball teams which opened the door to becoming a team manager. When the “star” received a basketball scholarship to Oregon State University, John was encouraged to come with him. He did, and his team managing experience landed him a manager spot for the basketball team. Then the “star’s” family had some significant family issues and John was able to step in and give comfort to the star and his family.
I don’t have any details about John’s spiritual life, but his story is a fresh example of how I have seen God work in many other lives. Paul encourages us to have patience and endurance. As we rely on God He will continue to comfort us.
Pastor Chad pointed out two basic reasons we go through difficult times:
–So we can comfort others
–So others will come to Jesus
He also encouraged us to share our hurts and troubles if we need help with an area in our life, like an addiction, finances, or family problem. Also share if you want to help others. He and Brynn feel that by sharing about their miscarriages they can help others be comforted, come to salvation, endure.