“Good comforting”

By Dave Henning / May 31, 2013

“No matter how crazy or nutty your life has seemed, God can make something good and strong out of it.  He can help you grow wide branches for others to use as shelter.”- Barbara Johnson

In Chapter 19 (“The Hidden Blessing of Affliction”) of Blessings, Laura Story states that when we are devastated by adversity, we earnestly seek to comfort others.  The lessons of “good comforting”, the author wryly observes, usually aren’t learned “in online seminary courses or introductory Bible studies.”  Author Henri Nouwen (The Wounded Healer) specifically declares that “good comforting” is experiential: “It is an illusion to think that a person can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.”

When Laura’s husband Martin was hospitalized for a lengthy period for treatment of his brain tumor, many inexperienced visitors offered their “advice”.  Some said that if Laura and Martin truly prayed in faith, Martin would be healed.  Others said it would be alright if Martin died because Laura would see him again in heaven.  Even though such statements contain a grain of truth, those pat answers and quick fixes bruised Laura’s heart- and certainly didn’t bring healing.  A few kind words and a simple prayer or two offered by someone who had “been there”, as well as the comfort of God’s presence, made all the difference.

Mrs. Charles E. Cowman offers her perspective on the blessings of adversity:

“We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and we shrink from them.  But, if we lift them and bind them about our hearts, they become wings, and on them we can rise and soar toward God.”

Today’s question:  What hurtful or helpful things have people said or done in response to your adversity?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The prison of bitterness”

About the author

Dave Henning

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