By Tommy Rush
When a first grader slipped and fell on the sidewalk while coming into church, the pastor tried to comfort him.
“Remember, big boys don’t cry.”
“Cry,” the little boy replied. “I’m going to sue.”
Sometimes it seems that people would rather have money than comfort, but we all know there are times in life when we would settle for comfort.
In recent days, I’ve seen a lot of tears. I’ve seen homeowners weep as they watched volunteers remove massive trees from their damaged homes. Last Tuesday, I saw several little preschoolers crying their eyes out as their parents dropped them off for their first day of school. For some, it was their first experience of being separated from their mother. I saw a few tears in the eyes of the moms too.
Some of the saddest tears of the week were tears that came last Saturday when a beautifully planned outdoor wedding had to be quickly relocated inside due to a sudden storm. Just an hour before the ceremony was scheduled to begin, the wind and rain came out of nowhere. The tears turned to joy however, as family and friends rallied together to pull off one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever been a part of.
I’ve always been amazed by people who have the gift of comforting others. Most people want to comfort those who are hurting but they don’t always know how. Some people make the mistake of trying to give advice during times of pain or grief. In the Bible there is the story of a man who suffered the loss of his family, his possessions, even his health. His friends came to him with a desire to comfort but instead they each one went to great lengths offering their opinions and suggestions which provided no comfort at all.
I’m not sure why we feel so obligated to talk in times of pain. The truth is that the best comfort we can give is simply providing a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. The essence of comfort is feeling what the other person is feeling, not explaining their pain. I love the story of the little girl who lived next door to an elderly man whose wife had recently died. When she returned home after a visit, her mother asked, “ What did you and Mr. Smith talk about for so long?” She said, “We didn’t say anything, we just cried together.” May the Lord help all of us to grow in the grace of comforting others. I’m convinced there are more than enough counselors, but a great shortage of comforters.