Comfort And Compassion

This is Day 24 of my Write 31 Days series for 2017: 31 Days of Kintsugi.
For an index of all the posts in the series, please click here.

comfort

Yesterday as we began to explore some of the “golden lines” of Kintsugi- some of the examples of the beauty God can work in our brokenness- we looked at the first of the Beatitudes, and the blessings there are in recognising our need for God and humbling ourselves before him.

The next golden line I want to explore links with the second of the Beatitudes:

“God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  (Matthew 5:5 NLT)

Again this is very different from the world’s view, and probably, if we’re honest, quite different from our view a lot of the time.  Mourning is painful and it’s easy to wonder how any blessing could possibly come from it.  As we discussed yesterday though, it is often in the times when we recognise our brokenness that we see our need of God and, as we do, he draws near and we experience his comfort.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”  (Psalm 34:18 NLT)

Yet the beauty goes even deeper, because Paul writes in 2 Corinthians:

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 

Brokenness can develop empathy and compassion in us, and enable us to stand with others in their brokenness.

As Oscar Romero put it: ” “There are many things that can only be seen through eyes that have cried.”

Brokenness gives us a different perspective on life: replacing judgement with understanding and self-sufficiency with humility, and as we draw close to God and know his comfort, that equips us to be able to comfort others.

We know what helped us in our brokenness, and we know what was less helpful, and this gives us insights about how to draw alongside others in their times of pain in a way that is sensitive and thoughtful, rather than in a way that worsens their pain.

I know that in one of my times of greatest brokenness, the least helpful thing was somebody who had very good intentions but who just didn’t understand.  Her words were intended to help, but instead they left me feeling judged and that my pain was being disregarded.  While it hurt at the time, I am grateful for the lessons that experience taught me about relating to others in their brokenness.

Often the most helpful thing is not that we have all the answers, but that we are present- that we are willing to come alongside others and sit with them in their pain.

Having known God’s comfort also equips us to bring comfort by speaking hope– not in a false “just pray and everything will be okay” kind of way, but a deep, authentic hope that comes from our own experience of knowing God’s comfort in the midst of our pain, and of witnessing firsthand his ability to heal and restore.

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24 thoughts on “Comfort And Compassion

  1. Lesley, this is beautiful, and so affirming. The Romero quote is powerful. I began learning some of the purposes of pain when our first child died. As you mentioned, well-meant words from folks who hadn’t cried those tears were sometimes painful. But, what comfort and hope to be able to reach out to others with authentic empathy. Thank you for sharing this good word today.

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    1. Thanks, Alice! I’m sorry you had to go through such pain and also that you were hurt by others’ insensitive words. I’m sure it has given you compassion for others and the ability to comfort them in their suffering.

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  2. The golden lines aren’t answers to the broken vessel, they are a coming together, a covering, a presence as you gracefully said. Thankful for the depths you are taking this, Lesley.

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  3. You are absolutely spot on. These lessons of empathy and compassion I learned when my oldest daughter died when she was 32. God heals my broken heart with His golden lines of love and compassion for me…and I can extend that to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, I’m sorry you learned these lessons through such heart-breaking circumstances, but I’m glad you are knowing God’s love and healing and that it helps you in comforting others.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nylse, thank for visiting! Kintsugi is a Japanese art which involves repairing broken ceramics with gold lacquer. The aim is not to hide the brokenness, but to transform it into something beautiful. I think it’s a great illustration of God’s work in our lives. I’ve been writing about it every day this month and the introductory post here goes into more detail if you’re interested: https://lifeinthespaciousplace.wordpress.com/2017/10/01/31-days-of-kintsugi/

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  4. Dear Lesley,
    Oh, this is just where God has been working in my heart lately: “Brokenness gives us a different perspective on life: replacing judgement with understanding and self-sufficiency with humility.” Taking away my self-sufficiency, through my own days of struggle, is such a learning process. Thank you for the beautiful confirmation that your words are today. He does bring such great comfort! Blessings to you!

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    1. Thanks, Bettie! I love when God confirms what he is saying to us in different ways! Letting go of self-sufficiency is tough but it’s amazing to know God’s strength in our weakness. Blessings!

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  5. I’ve been wounded in my pain by well-intentioned words as well. I know the friend was trying to comfort me, but it didn’t work. ha. Thankfully I knew her heart’s intent was pure which helped me forgive her. You’re speaking truth: “Brokenness can develop empathy and compassion in us, and enable us to stand with others in their brokenness.”

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  6. “Often the most helpful thing is not that we have all the answers, but that we are present- that we are willing to come alongside others and sit with them in their pain.” This is true. We need to be there for someone, not necessarily have answers. We do learn a lot through our brokenness and Jesus does come right alongside us.

    Blessings to you! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.

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  7. Lesley, what a beautiful post. You are right. We learn lessons when we go through brokenness. Like you, I’ve learned how to respond to others based on how people have responded to me–both the helpful and the hurtful responses.

    I’m glad our brokenness is never wasted, and that God gives us the gift of ministering to others through what we’ve experienced. There really is hope in knowing that God can use our brokenness to minister to others, isn’t there?

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