My husband and I recently took advantage of the precious time we had to ourselves while our kids were having the times of their lives at summer camp (thank you, Pine Cove!) We headed to the Florida coast to enjoy the scenic ocean views unattainable for us, here in land-locked Dallas. We’re not ones to lay on a sandy beach all afternoon, but we do love riding bikes along the oceanfront.
As we neared the recreation desk of the resort to check out bikes for the afternoon, we noticed it was adjacent to the kids’ activity area. Upon reaching the desk, we noticed a childcare worker on her knees, looking into the eyes of a tearful toddler who was clinging to her lovey.
“I just want my maaaaah-mmmeeeee,” she pleaded as the stream of tears steadily grew to flowing rivers running down her face. “Pleeeeeeeeeez just get her! I just need to be with her,” she begged, trying to convince the resort employee that her mother was the only solution to that could bring comfort.
The kind, sweet, young woman gently held the girl’s shoulders and both calmly and confidently proceeded, “We’re not going to get your mommy right now…but I promise, you’re going to be fine, and we’re going to have so much fun today.” She enthusiastically explained the creative plan she had crafted for the day, and she gave her best sales pitch to shift the little girl’s attention.
As we finished our registration details to get our bikes checked-out, I glanced over to see if any progress was made to allay the child’s separation anxiety. I could tell there was some banter back and forth; likely some ping-ponging of offerings and denials, until ultimately the girl seemed to resign herself to the fact that she wasn’t going to get her mom any time soon. As if in defeat, she succumbed to try and enjoy life at least a little bit in the meantime. (Sigh!) God bless her!
It actually got me thinking as I hopped onto my bike. Isn’t it amazing how much comfort that little girl gets from her mother? She has no idea her mother is simply human; limited and unable to make everything better, like she believes.
It caused me to wonder about myself. Do I have the same yearning to be with God, much like this daughter wants to be with her mother? Because, He is not human, nor limited and actually can make everything better. But, even knowing that…am I desperate to cling to Him as His child? Hmmmmm….
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that God makes everything better in the same way a genie makes a wish come true. Contrary to popular (and inaccurate) opinion, scripture actually tells us that believers should expect difficulties in life. God didn’t send His Son to make our lives easy. He was sent so we could have peace in the midst of trouble (John 16:33). He was sent to pay a ransom; to take away our sins. He was sent so we can be comforted in the midst of our humanity that overflows with mistakes, desires, selfishness and failures. God sent Jesus to wipe our entire slate clean (Hebrews 10:17) so He could be in a relationship with us. He wants us to crawl up in His lap, allow His arms to wrap around us and receive all the goodness He has for us. Just as we would expect from a good Father.
His goodness doesn’t stop with us, though. It actually fills us and flows through us.
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 receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV).
This is one of my favorite passages of Scripture, because it not only demonstrates what God does for us, but it also gives purpose to our pain. The comfort we receive from the Lord is a gift that keeps on giving. Our job is to receive it and then pass it on.
I’ve experienced this first-hand in numerous ways throughout my lifetime. In recent years, one of the hardest things I’ve done was to lay down my own expectations and allow my son to attend boarding school in another state, per his request. It was both excruciating and nerve-wracking to let go of him years before I had planned, but God was so gracious as we allowed our son to follow his own leading. As I drew close to Him, I definitely felt Him drawing closer to me (James 4:8). He so graciously let me know He was near, and He calmed my angst over and over again. I wrote about it here. Now, more than two years later, I have the honor of leading the parents’ committee, where I can share my experience, learning and hope to guide new families at the school. It blesses me so abundantly to help others and to pass on the comfort I’ve received.
I’ve also watched a dear friend find God’s comfort in the midst of terrible heartache as Alzheimer’s disease slowly steals away her precious mother. My friend, Sarah, has demonstrated amazing grace and inspiring strength, which she credits to the Lord as her merciful supplier. Not only is she personally traveling this challenging journey, but she wrote a book and shares online to provide hope, empathy and comfort to others who are struggling with the harsh realities degenerative diseases pose for families. I know it’s been a terribly difficult journey with many unexpected turns, but she remains connected to her Comforter, and He fills her for her own good and the good of others. It’s just incredible to witness her love and obedience (go follow her on Facebook and Instagram!)
We all know that life will throw struggles our way. Nobody is immune. We will feel pain, stress, hurt and heartache. These are all normal emotions and should be expected. But, we can also hold onto the hopeful expectation that God will be with us every step of the way.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
My prayer for all of us is that we reach for our Father, who is eager to draw near and help us in our times of distress. Let’s go to Him now…
Father, God, I know nothing in this life surprises You and nothing is outside of your control. When life is hard, please help me to come to you first. I know you want to be with me, and I pray that you will draw me closer to you. Don’t let me waste time, Lord, struggling on my own, but please remind me to speak my prayers to you. No word will be wasted, and You will hear every one. Help me to receive your comforting response, Lord, for I know you are good and will be with me always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.