“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort….” (2 Corinthians 1:3)
After we have pushed through the entanglements of a dense forest, arms scratched from the impact of straggling branches, head bruised from colliding with low-lying limbs, muscles whining from the strain of the fight, we emerge differently than when we first entered this wooded enclave. Armed with experience and with a clearer understanding of what the trek entailed, we approach other weary travelers with a welcome gift they, too, might choose to slip into another’s palm someday.
At times, our loving Father bids us to enter the treacherous places, and we recoil at their ghastly intrusion in our lives. What good could ever come from such a darkened landscape? Why must there be stretches of complicated pathways, with the unknown looming at every turn? At first, we attempt to flee this wretched zone, to hurtle through and reach the other side unscathed. Instead, the submerged roots snarl our feet, the unexpected winds blow fiercely, and we fall face‐down, buried in decaying leaves and blackened soil.
When we believe that all is lost, that circumstances have driven us miles off course, the Lord of all reaches through the messy foliage and makes us aware of his prevailing presence. The forest leaves do not evaporate; the cumbersome trunks still stand, menacing and large. But, guided by his capable hands and strengthened by his powerful arms, we make our way through, bandaged and bruised, to the other side.
All the way there, with each step around each muddled curve, he has bent his head to ours and spoken strength into our fragile places. He has cradled us within the secure crook of his arm, reminding us in written Word and living Spirit that his name is Comforter and Friend, a Brother born for adversity.
When meadows and rolling hills come into view, when the forest stands afar off and the scent of danger has slowly withdrawn, we are left with a bundle to manage. When he walked beside us and offered balm for our wounds, he eased into our hands a vial that he calls us to dispense generously. Our hands are now shaped to the task; our lips yield what he filled from the deep reservoirs of pain.
“Who comforts us in any affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4).