Last week I wrote Hold the Stretch and I described crying out to God, asking Him for comfort and encouragement. But it was a quiet day. I listened, waited, anticipating that God might draw my mind to a fantastic verse or a profound thought but . . . it was quiet.
I wasn’t surprised by this. God is not our comfort-candy machine where we put a prayer in and get comfort out. He invites us to come to Him but He doesn’t exactly promise what will happen next. He offers us His Presence and the rest is a mystery. But I was sad and weary. I went to bed that night glad to have written the blog but felt like my pilot flame was low and flickering, without much sign of it turning up.
The next day, however, was FILLED with encouragement. But not what I expected:
I had a doctor appointment and I described my symptoms using an expression. My doctor stopped me and said, “Heather, that is brilliant! Where did you read that?” I told him that I made it up. He said he’d like to borrow it for his patients.
I received an email from someone who lives with migraines and she had been listening to my podcasts in the darkness of her bedroom while she was resting. God had met her there and given her fresh hope.
I received more emails, texts and a random conversation that my husband had with someone who mentioned me, all about thankfulness for my encouragement to them through my writing.
There’s a story about a little boy who climbed a tree, lost his grip and began to fall. He cried out, “God, help me!” and then he continued, “Never mind, my pants got caught on a branch.”
I think that’s how my prayers tend to go. I cry out for comfort . . . and I expect that it will look a certain way. But instead, God gently intervenes and provides in ways I never would have expected.
As I received these random emails and texts from friends and strangers, I began to understand that perhaps my desire to help people and come alongside them in their suffering is STRONGER than my desire for comfort. It’s as if God showed me a glimpse of how He can speak His love to this world through my life, through my words, through my pain. I felt as if God was pulling back the blinds and revealing to me the game plan, the purpose, the bigger picture. And without actually voicing the question, I felt as if He was asking me, “Do you want comfort more than this?”
I believe my answer is no.
I do want to live a life with purpose. I do want to be courageous and brave and adventurous and unafraid. I do want to love others, deeply, and offer them the encouragement that I receive from God so that they can find hope and purpose. And if that means that pain remains as part of my story, then I accept.
And strangely enough, my pilot light is ON, my heart is FULL, and I feel God’s COMFORT in the reality that He is WITH me, that He and I are in this TOGETHER and that my small offerings, much like the lunch that the boy offered Jesus, is being multiplied far beyond anything I can imagine!
And somehow, that has been the comfort that I really needed!