Grief and Comfort Hold Hands

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Grieving takes a long time.  It's not uncommon for people to ask me when the grief of a loss will end so they can feel normal again.  I recently had the privilege of hearing someone express their pain from the loss of some loved ones... pain that continues years later.  Knowing that you also might be feeling the silent pain of grief; I've decided to post my response.  I hope you will be encouraged by these words.
 
 
We will never know why some people have to grieve so much more than others.  It doesn't seem fair.  
 
Kimberly and I lost two children in the womb before Joshua was born.  They would be around 19 and 20 now if both were with us.  I don't even know if they were boys or girls!  The miscarriages were early which is less traumatic than going full term, but they were still a loss.  I found out very quickly some of the stupid things people can say when they don't understand:  "At least it was early on."  "You'll see them again in heaven." and "Don't worry, you'll have more children."  All of those statements invalidated our grief and let us feeling misunderstood and more and more distant from the people we wanted support from.  
On the other hand, we also discovered that we could very quickly identify other people who have had miscarriages or lost children.  They got it.  They understood.  There was an instant bond.  We could have a deeper connection with them within minutes than we would ever have with people who had no clue what we'd been through.   
 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 , "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 have received from God."  
 
I used to think that meant that I suffer.  Then I get better.  Then as a better person, I can help others.  I don't see it that way anymore.  I think it's more like, "I am suffering.  I can relate to people who are suffering.  I can relate to God, who lost a child.  I can relate to Jesus who suffered unfairly.  God flows between us through our suffering."  Giving comfort is more about sharing and receiving hurts than about giving advice or "fixing it" when someone is struggling.  
 
Paul goes on in verses 5-7, "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produced in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  Our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."
 
The Apostle Paul is notorious for his run-on sentences and circular reasoning!  (Like many pastors!).  But the point is that suffering and comfort hold hands.  You don't leave suffering behind and only have comfort.  You can have suffering without comfort, but the healthy place to be is to hold hands with both.  Hurt.  Cry.  Grieve.  But begin to mingle some hope and companionship back into it.  Remember again that God walked "through the valley of the shadow of death" ahead of us.  God doesn't bring us "back to normal" but helps us stumble our way to a new normal.  Good soil where flowers can begin to grow again.
 
Pastor Patrick  
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Guest Sunday, 20 August 2017

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