Away In A Manger 1012x140

Comfort In A Season Of Mourning

Read This: “But this I call to mind; therefore I have hope: The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassion never ends. They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant!” (Lamentations 3:21-23)

Think: My fiery red headed cousin Heidi would have celebrated her 31st birthday this Saturday. Two and half years ago she lost her battle with ovarian cancer. I remember a couple months before she passed away she was over at my house, just hanging out with me and my kids like she often did. But instead of bubbling over with chatter and laughter as usual, she quietly sat with us as we went about our day. I kept asking her if something was wrong, knowing she often became tired or didn’t feel good. That wasn’t the case that day. She simply explained, “I’m so happy to be here with you guys, but I just don’t have anything to say.” Heidi already knew in her heart what the rest of us desperately wanted to think was impossible—she was dying.

Grief is a lonely place. It’s can be tempting to shut people out and try to deal with it on our own, but God created us for relationships—family, spouses, friendships, mentors, and so on. We were born to do life with him and others. What sweeter comfort than a friend who willingly sits with us. Misery loves company, that friend who willingly climbs into the boat with you knowing it’s going to be uncomfortable and messy. “If two lie down together, they can keep each other warm, but how can one person keep himself warm?” Heidi didn’t come over that day to talk it out or get some advice—she just wanted our company.

We need our friends because there aren’t easy answers to our sorrow and it could be a long night. We live in a broken world where sickness, famine, violence, and crime are everywhere; we can’t make sense of the pain. Sometimes we may feel like our prayers go unanswered as we try to stay afloat on an ocean of darkness that threatens to swallow us. It’s often in the hardest periods of our lives that we are forced to wrestle with the biggest questions in life—our faith, our purpose, and who God is. We may question and doubt in ways we never thought we would, or even find ourselves angry with God. But no matter how we feel, we must hold fast to God’s promises.

We serve a faithful, loving God. He is a God of comfort, close to the broken hearted, who will one day wipe away every tear. Our hope rests in him, our Redeemer and Savior, not in the circumstances of this world. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” We may have to grapple with our grief for long periods of time, maybe even the rest of our earthly lives, but God said, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

It’s often in the dark times that our faith shines brightest. In a world of sorrow, we cling to a hope that is real. God is gracious to meet us where we are and guide us through the dark. There is no denying the supernatural peace and strength that carried Heidi and her family through their journey. And their hope was not in vain; today she is cancer free and someday we will get to celebrate that with her.

Ask: Have you ever sat in the mourning booth? If so, what got you through it? In practical ways, how can you be there for someone in the valley?

Pray: Maybe you know someone going through a dark period of life—usually you don’t have to look far (turn on the news). Pray God’s comfort for that person, and ask that the true hope we have in Christ will be clear to him/her.