“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
I sat on my twin-sized bed, curled up in my lavender bedspread, sobbing until I felt I had no tears left. My 11-year-old-self had her hopes once again dashed, causing a wave of grief that would only subside once exhaustion set in and sleep finally took over.
I was dealing again with the sorrow that came from being a child of divorce.
In the days before my parents’ divorce was final, there were times I spied a glimmer of hope that the court proceedings would be canceled, and my parents would stay married. But the glimmer soon faded when my dad packed his bags again and moved out to an apartment, leaving my dream in the dust.
That old bed became a familiar grieving ground. It held me when later I was left out of my circle of friends, overlooked for the starring role in the play, rejected by a crush I thought surely would notice me. Over the years, the four walls of my bedroom witnessed the heart-cries of a young girl trying desperately to navigate relationships and reality.
Toward the end of high school, I became connected to the little country church across the street. Its quaint, tall white steeple beckoned me to come in. Its friendly people did, too. Soon I was told the gospel story. How Christ took my place on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin and purchasing my way to heaven. I responded to the Spirit’s invitation and placed my trust in Jesus.
Becoming a believer didn’t change my circumstances. However, it did change my response to them.
As I spent time with my mentor from the church, Miss Pat, I saw where to take my sorrow, how to deal with my grief and find comfort in the security of God’s love. She had been through many of the same situations I found myself facing. She’d invite me into her home, pour me a cup of tea and offer me a homemade cookie. Her listening ear, loving advice and prayers of consolation helped me through many rough patches of life. Today, over three decades later, she remains a loving influence in my life.
Today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, is a picture of this very concept: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
As Miss Pat thought about the ways God had comforted her in the past, she reached out to me with that same comfort, helping me deal with the various situations life brought my way. She pointed me to the Father of compassion, the only One who completely understood my dilemmas and caused all my situations to work together for good, according to His purpose.
Today, as a mother of teenagers and young adults, I often find myself in a similar situation. My kitchen island is a sacred space, drawing others in who long to have someone help process life’s ups and downs. So, I bake cookies and pour a cup of coffee. I listen and I love. In many ways, I feel that in ministering to the people God sends my way, I am being like Miss Pat was to me. I am comforting others with the comfort I myself have received from Christ. I not only do this in my home, but I try to do it through my writing.
If we feel our life is lacking purpose, we have a very simple solution: Go find your old self and encourage her. Were you a lonely teenager? Reach out to one today. Were you once a stressed-out mother, drowning in diapers and laundry? Find such a mom today and help to lighten her load.
Go find your old self. Comfort them. Love them. Point them to Christ. When you do, you will find purpose in your past pain. And you’ll be an example to someone who just might keep the circle of comfort going.
Father, thank You for being my hope from the days of my youth until now. May I encourage others with the stories of Your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
This post originally appeared on Proverbs31.org and was republished with permission.
Karen Ehman is a New York Times bestselling author, a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker, and a writer for Encouragement for Today, an online devotional that reaches over four million women daily. Married to her college sweetheart, Todd, and the mother of three, she lives with her family in Michigan.