Thursday, September 22, 2016

Being (or Not Being) Comforted By God When Everything Is Terrible

By most people's standards, I haven't had a very hard life. I'd probably agree with them. But even so, I've been in the middle of some situations where I had no peace of mind and definitely needed some comfort.

Two years ago, I sat at the little round table in my super deluxe postpartum recovery suite (kidding about the super deluxe part) feeling particularly hopeless. My body was recovering from an emergency C-section, and my baby was in an isolette in the NICU 40 minutes away.

We knew it was only a question of when  not if  he could come out. We knew that eventually he'd be fine. I'd be fine. But for now, I was a wreck. The 20 miles between us might as well have been a few continents and an ocean, because I was in no condition to go anywhere.

I remember leaning my elbows on the table and praying for some comfort. And feeling... nothing.

At the time I was so frustrated. I've always believed that God wants to comfort us in our times of greatest need. All throughout the scriptures and in the lives of people I know (who definitely aren't liars!) I've seen it happen.

So why wasn't it happening to me?

Being (or Not Being) Comforted By God When Everything is Terrible -- I remember leaning my elbows on the table and praying for some comfort. And feeling... nothing. What was going on?  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

That experience was years ago, but I found myself lying awake thinking about it the other night. If God loves us, why was His comfort so elusive to me?

I thought about every example I could think of in the scriptures when someone has been comforted by God, and pretty soon I got to thinking about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and suffering for all our sins. That was the worst one. Literally no one can even understand what agony that was.

As the Savior prayed, Luke says that "an angel [came] from heaven, strengthening him."

I was pondering on this when a very strong thought occurred to me: Look up what Jesus said right before that.

I got out of bed, pulled up the scriptures on, and read. Before the angel appeared, Jesus asked "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:43.)

Being willing to give up control  or at least, the illusion that we're in control  is an absolute prerequisite for the Lord to do pretty much anything with us. Including, I think, comforting us.

Now, I will never experience what Jesus experienced in the garden. But I'm sure there will be many scenarios in my life that I'm sure are driving me beyond my limits.

At those times, it helps to remember that God is standing at the door, ready and waiting to carry us through the hardest trials of our lives. We just need to let Him in.

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Crystal Green from Sharing Life's Moments said...

Such a great reminder that God's in control! He has a plan for our lives and if we follow his lead it will only enhance our lives even in troubled times. He makes all bad things for good.

Anonymous said...

From someone whose life has been as exciting as a soap opera (though it would be spread amongst several characters or be too unbelievable even than a soap)I can testify that it can take a while to recognize the quiet voice of comfort. Sometimes it took looking back to see where the comfort was extended. Other times the extended comfort was rejected by the"logic" of my mind not understanding how the comfort could be.
6 years ago I had the worst experience of my life when my daughter's daughter was stillborn- the strength and peace I felt as we watched the precious heart stop during a scan to ascertain what medical help was available felt like a betrayal. That evening as I walked the dog Psalms 8:3-5 came to mind unbidden. Four days after her passing the little angel was born 26 September will be her 6th birthday I still cry at her leaving but am blessed that I recognise times the veil has been thin and like the prophet's servant I see those with us are more than those against us and include family who have passed through the veil and include this little one. You may recognise times when deep inside you were suppressing the comfort that was being extended as I did- like a toddler who won't be comforted. Sending love and hugs.

Jenny Evans said...

That is such a good point, and looking back I actually do think there were many people and experiences that were comforting me in small ways that I was not recognizing at the time. I would've rather had a moment where the clouds parted and angels sang and I miraculously felt all better, so I chose to ignore the smaller mercies that weren't immediately recognizable.

So sorry for your experience. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must have been. Happy birthday to your granddaughter.

PurpleSlob said...

Thanks, Jenny for this. We have to always read the Scripture in context, to get the entire meaning. I've felt not comforted too, before. And I know it's the same reason, I wasn't wiliing to give up control to God. Because He is ALWAYS there, whether we "Feel" Him or not!