But God encourages January 31, 2022
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4:6-7, 7:5-6 God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. … For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts … but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. … We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.
Genesis 16:13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are El-roi, the God who sees me.”
At the memorial service yesterday, hidden inside my boots, there was a hole in my sock. A big one. Not at all attractive.
I may have looked decently put together, but I knew the hole was there. God knew too. He didn’t care about my sock, but he cared about what it symbolized for me, the hole in my heart. God saw. The same El-roi who appeared to Hagar in her wilderness. I feel her awe.
God, who encourages those who are discouraged, appeared to Hagar through an angel. He encouraged Paul through Titus. He comforted me yesterday through Jeanne. Her gifts of music unveiled to me the Presence of God with us, evoking the deep comfort of her ministry to us through Karis’s memorial, almost eight years ago.
In this marvelous way—tailor-made, it seemed, for me, though doubtless the beauty and power of worship touched each person there—God strengthened me to walk into this week. Joy and sorrow will blend somehow as I share in the happiness of my brother’s wedding while reliving both the grief and the solace engendered by Karis’s death.
But Jeanne’s ministry of worship yesterday also touched and softened a current grief. My dear friend Mary, whom God used to shine light into my darkness so many times through our years in Brazil, lies in a São Paulo ICU breathing through the support of a respirator, her lungs 75% consumed by Covid. Before I go to bed and first thing when I wake up, I check for news, entrusting her and her family many times a day to the mercies of God.
Yesterday, as the service guided us to think about Sharon free, well, and joyful in the presence of her Lord, I pictured Mary there with her. Both women poured out their gifts of worship and of intercession and counsel to bless and comfort and encourage many, many people. Both suffered huge losses in life; both lost dearly loved sons. Both, through the deep empathy engendered by their own suffering, shone light into the darkness of others. As Jeanne did for me yesterday, in a reprise of her ministry to me almost eight years ago.
Perhaps you have no hidden hole on your sole. Perhaps, though, you have a tattered place in your soul. Perhaps no one else knows it’s there. But God sees. He sees you. Through Jesus, the Man of Sorrows, he understands your fragility. Your fear. Your need. I pray he will touch the tender areas of your heart today with his comfort and healing and encouragement. As he did for Hagar. As he did for me.
Today, I’m changing my socks.