So I gave you a bit of chronological history of events in this friend’s life and I want to emphasize that I can’t, and I won’t, even begin to pretend that I can imagine how it feels to lose your child. That one bad thing that happens to anyone, good or bad, is enough to send them over the edge. The aftermath of it all is excruciating to watch. I’ve watched it with this friend and with another friend who I met just a few years ago. I know that they experience every negative emotion there is while others stand at a distance, unsure of what to say, how to approach them or how to penetrate their self-made wall of isolation, let alone how to comfort them. The truth is that if we haven’t lost at their same level and been comforted in that loss, we’re not going to be able to comfort them. STOP! DETOUR AHEAD!
I keep hearing “You will comfort others with the comfort you’ve been given.” Hmmm, that verse is in there for a reason and I have a feeling it may be part of His answer to us. Holy Moly! So I didn’t quite quote it right. Here it is from the NKJV 2nd Corinthians 1:3b-4: The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
I don’t know about you, but I see a lot of yummy stuff to chew on here, so this detour is going to be a rather long one, but, hey, this is a very important question we are asking Him so we need to be prepared to spend some time feasting at His table for the answers. This is turning out to be a series within a series! Come on and follow me.
The first thing I see is “all our tribulation.” Now I know there are words preceding those, but I think if we can digest these first, then we can more readily digest the beginning, especially for those of you who are on the fence about your belief in “the God of all comfort.”
Father, write through me, because this is so difficult for many to understand.
The words “all our tribulation” tell me He knew and knows about all that we will go through. Now, there’s a difference between His perfect will and His permissive will and here’s where you need to ask for wisdom and understanding. For a long time, I was like my friend in the way I thought of Him up there on His throne, as though He were up there playing Monopoly with my life and all its moves backwards and forwards – more backwards! I am blessed beyond belief as I realize the discernment and understanding He’s granted me to see His hand in all my circumstances, good and bad!
My faith and beliefs didn’t just happen; they’ve been developed through the discipline of just showing up to talk with Him just a few minutes each morning at first. As that got more consistent, His Word became a necessary part of that time and a few minutes turned into twenty or thirty. The more time I spent with Him and the more I studied, the more convinced I became of His love for us and His desire for our lives. But this was a process!
Now let me get back to perfect will versus permissive will for just a moment. When I say permissive will, what I mean is despite us and our choices, He can and will use our past –and that means every aspect of it, every choice, every hurt and disappointment — to positively affect our present and our future. He is the only one who is capable of that. Let me see if I can explain this so it’s clearer than mud.
I don’t believe it was His perfect will for me to get married that second time, but I was so heck bent on finding and having love, I didn’t stop long enough when the warning signs began flashing. That not so wise choice was just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. See that bad choice was used to uncover the lid to the trunk of junk full of pain, bitterness, confusion from all my prior not-so-good choices. Despite me, He used that last hum-dinger for so much good I can’t even begin to put it into words. I tell many people that He took my pooh and turned it into beautiful perfume! I could go on but we haven’t got all day and actually, that’s why the Destination? Joyful! trilogy! ™