My wife’s sisters were visiting recently and they each have a baby that came with them. It was a lot of fun seeing our kids play with their baby cousins as they don’t get to do that very often. While all of the kids seemed to have a great time, their visit really seemed to draw out the compassionate side of my seven year old son.
I was on the couch one night and one of the babies was in the floor crying. Now, standard operating procedure for me around a crying baby – particularly one that doesn’t belong to me – is to wait it out as long as possible until the mom comes and takes over. This, however, was not an acceptable solution for my son who decided to help. He has this very special blanket that we all call buggus. It used to be bug blanky, but now it’s just buggus. He’s had it since he was a year old and he loves it. And when that baby cried, he did the most caring, selfless thing that anyone could do. He lay down on the floor with the baby and wrapped his blanket around him and just comforted him until he calmed down.
It was such a sweet thing to see and in that moment I was extremely proud of my son for being so sensitive and compassionate. Later, as I thought about it, I realized that it was really the perfect picture of what God does for us.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 we are told that God is “…the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…” The Greek word for comfort here is paraklesis and it literally means “a calling to one’s side.” It is giving strength and encouragement while alleviating grief. That is comfort and that is what most of us are looking for. We just look in the wrong places. We look to relationships and self-gratification and all kinds of other selfish means.
But we should be looking to Jesus for the comfort we need. Jesus is calling you to his side. He loves you. He cares for you. He is waiting to come alongside your mess and help you and encourage you. That’s the God we serve. A God of comfort. A God who, like my compassionate son, crawls down into our problem with us and wraps the blanket of his love around us to provide strength and encouragement and relieve suffering.
If this kind of comfort sounds appealing to you, I want to encourage you to stop trying to chase it down on your own and simply rely on God for the comfort you need. He may not remove the difficulty or the cause of suffering, but I can promise that He will deliver you from the hopelessness that comes with trying to face it alone.