Comfort my people… Isaiah 40:1
Today I am simply referring you to a touching blog written by an associate pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport, Louisiana, USA. His daughter, Maggie Lee Henson, was seriously injured when the bus the church young people were traveling on was in an accident on the way to a church youth camp.
Some have observed that Jewish rabbis handled issues of suffering differently than we Christian pastors do today. If someone in the midst of suffering asks a pastor, “Why did God let this happen?” we tend to try to give a theological explanation, and automatically we set ourselves in an argumentative position against the person. If someone asked a rabbi that question, the rabbi would come along side the person, put his arm around them to encourage them and then ask God, “Why did you let this happen to this man?”
Somehow I think I prefer the rabbi’s method to the typical pastor’s. We are called to offer one another the comfort of God, and in the midst of suffering and difficulty theology is a very weak substitute. Even the brightest and most biblical among us has very few answers as to why there is suffering on earth. Oh, we can attribute it all somehow to the spreading influence of human rebellion. We can cite people who have endured much or suffered much. We may talk about heaven where the blind see, the lame walk, and tears are wiped away. We can say like Spurgeon, when you can’t see His hand, trust His heart. But when a young girl like Maggie Lee is crushed under a bus on the way to church camp, well, I am not sure that I have any answers for that, at least none that seem to really matter at the moment.
We are left merely with the knowledge that God comforts His people in sorrow. The question of why-did-it-happen is best answered not by theology but by love, presence, and support, by the picture of Christ weeping beside the grieving Mary near the grave of her brother Lazarus. “Then,” in heaven, we will see clearly, but “now,” on earth, we see as through a glass, darkly. Then explanations will come, but now we need comfort.
If you know someone in grief or who struggles with difficulty and sadness, who, like Maggie Lee’s parents, are caught up in the unbearable thought of facing tragedy and loss, it is helpful to remember than in all of God’s works our job is to be there and try not to get in God’s way. God is in His way bringing His comfort into the lives of His people.
Lord, we recognize You as our Comforter in all situations. Breathe Your comfort into our lives, and into the lives of the Henson family. Amen.