There are times in life when we need comfort, just as the disciples did after the death of Jesus. His death shook their world. They seem to be huddling together in the upper room, afraid to be seen, afraid of the Roman guards. All their hopes and dreams were smashed. First, they were shocked by the arrest of Jesus. Then, Peter, a loyal disciple, had denied that he even knew Jesus. Three times, he denied him. Then, Jesus was actually crucified and died. The one in whom they had placed their hope was gone.
They sat together, doors closed and locked, afraid of being arrested, afraid of being tried, and afraid of being executed. This was a very unsettling and scary time for them. What could they do now?
You may have had some very unsettling times yourself when you were at a major cross road, where the past and the future seem disconnected. Perhaps you have experienced a lay-off or a firing, or a divorce, or the death of a loved one. If you have not had one of those times, you will some day. It is part of being human.
We can find comfort in food, mashed potatoes, chocolate, or other foods that remind us of happy times and loving people. And, we can find comfort in the company of kind people, a walk in nature, a good book, or a movie. However, as I learned in fifteen years of walking the Hospice Road with many people, sometimes there is no personal presence or food, music, book, or movie that is strong enough to bring comfort.
When working as a hospice chaplain, I was frequently around people who are sad, sick, or grieving. Some are in shock from receiving such a short life expectancy from the doctor. They need more comfort than I, myself, can give. I responded to their needs with prayer. When praying for their comfort, I prayed that the love of God would surround them like a soft blanket and bring comfort for their souls.
What do you do when there is nothing we have that brings comfort?
Pray. The power of the Holy Spirit can give comfort that eliminates fear, brings peace and strength. The love of God is larger than our deepest fear.
When we get to a major crossroad and don’t know what lies ahead, we can pray. God is with us. God will be with us, giving us the courage to go forward. And, this comforts me.
What about you?
A person can receive a gift in the midst of grief. It is a joy that can coexist with the grief. I have received it myself and was aware that it took no effort on my part to nurture it. It is for that joy that I pray for grieving people.
I pray for that as well, Katherine, whether the grief comes from the death of a loved one, the death of a marriage, or the end of your hopes for a particular vocation. And, I pray that those who experience these things are able to feel God’s presence and eventually see new possibilities for life before them.