Part of the reason I haven’t posted recently is because I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster. And, it’s been getting worse rather than better. Today seemed like the last straw. But, one way or another, I was found the peace I was seeking.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassions and the God of all comfort;
Who comforts us in all our affliction that we may be able to comfort those who are in every affliction through the comforting with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
II Corinthians 1:3-4
It all started with a phone call from Alana. She asked me to explain what was wrong, so I started explaining all the things that I was feeling and how nothing in my life seemed to make sense. After I (finally!) stopped talking, she responded in a way that no one has ever responded before. She said, “Abigail, I don’t know the answer. I don’t understand. But let’s take a moment to pause and pray.”
I have no problem with prayer. In fact, I love prayer. But a lot of the prayers people have prayed over me have been, “God, please heal Abigail. Please help her be at peace with where she’s at.” Anna didn’t pray like that at all. She said things like, “Dear Jesus, I know that Abigail is going through something really hard. Please cause her to know, not just in her head but in a deep way, that You’re there with her.” “Wrap Your arms around her. Bring her people where she is who can physically wrap their arms around her.”
Her prayer stopped me. I can tell God that this is hard? He not only cares that I’m suffering, but it’s okay to admit that I am? Now I wasn’t just a person with problems, but God specifically cared about me and about what I was passing through. And while I know that this will turn out to salvation, I also can be assured that He’s there every step of the way, even the hard steps, the impossible ones, the ones that seem so unfair.
Fast forward a few hours, I was meeting Timothy for coffee. Timothy’s wife Grace and I had gone to school together. She was out of town, but she told me to call her husband who is currently finishing divinity school. I told Timothy that I was having a hard time, being sick, and just generally frustrated; he offered to meet me for coffee. It was a bit awkward because I’ve been hesitant about meeting guys for “deep” conversations, and while Timothy is married, we’re also the same age. Despite moments of awkwardness and my nervousness, I’m really glad I got to spend some time with him. He was definitely an answer to Alana’s prayer for someone who lived where I live.
After talking about things in my life interspersed with lighter topics, I asked Timothy if we could close in prayer, meaning, of course, that I was asking him to pray. Like Alana, his prayer was really new to me, really fresh, and really comforting.
Timothy started off by thanking God for the beautiful weather and the wonder of springtime. (Where is he going with this?) Then, he asked that God would work the same work of renewal in our lives as He is executing in the physical world around us. (Oh! A beautiful picture. Wow, all creation reflects the majesty and power of our God!)Like Alana, he told God that he sees the frustration and the trials of my life. He asked not only that God will heal me, but that God would be my comfort and my rest, that God would strengthen me to continue along the path I believe He’s ordained for me. He also thanked God for the people in my life who have been supportive and prayed that they would continue to be there for me and also that those who have been less understanding would come around.
Afterward, he said that he would continue to be praying & asked if he could add my name to the church prayer list for the twice daily prayers for healing.
I left the time feeling completely different. Nothing’s really changed. I’m still in a lot of pain and really exhausted. But I’ve realized that the God who is my Father is not only so big that He orders the seasons, but also so precise that He cares for me even during personal hardships. He’s big enough to free the schedules of the right friends to meet me, and He’s perfect to give them words of comfort and shepherding even as they appeal to Him. And I’m not alone. God is here with me, and my friends are remembering me in their private devotions and public sacred moments.
Reflecting on all this, the verse above came to me. The God of all comfort sometimes comforts us Himself. But oftentimes, He comforts us through others, those who have experienced His comforting before. And I’m reminded again that beauty of God and His amazing way of working and reaching me in particular.