A while back, I was preparing for a sermon on mourning and the premise was: “Blessed are those who morn for they shall be comforted.” That week, I got a call from a man in Cordova, Tennessee. The caller said that he was Richard Hipps, pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church in Cordova near Memphis. He told me that he had been to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital where Brad and Aimee Smith have their three-year-old son, Alan. Alan has acute Leukemia. Pastor Richard said he wanted me to know that if there were anything he or his church could do to help they would love to do it.
He had sincerity to him. A kindness. You could hear it through the phone. I was a bit surprised that this complete stranger would want to engage in the pain of someone in our church.
When he told me his story, I knew why. He and his wife were missionaries to Brazil. They had a daughter that was five. They were home on furlough and she got sick. At first, they thought it was the flu. But she didn’t get better. In fact, she grew worse. Then came the diagnosis: a rare virus she picked up in Brazil that attacks and weakens the heart.
His daughter died at five. No wonder he would go and minister to strangers in the children’s hospital. He said, “We’ve walked down that road.”
Pain is a problem. How can a good God let bad things happen to good people? There are a variety of responses to that. Sometimes pain comes because God wants to get your attention. CS Lewis said that God shouts to us through our pain. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Sometimes the pain is to refine us and shape our character. Sometimes painful episodes are the discipline of God. Unfortunately, sometimes we don’t know why the pain happens. It will remain a mystery.
Whatever the reason for your pain, God promises two things. First, he will comfort you. And second, you will become a comfort to someone else.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-)
Whatever your pain, use it to comfort someone else today.