Summary: Focuses on how we should be comforting one another.
Comfort One Another
During my lifetime I have had the opportunity to attend many funerals both as a child and more so as an adult. I remember my parents visiting their friends and other family members when there was a death in the family. I would sit quietly and watch and listen as they talked with the family members about their lost loved one. I remember wondering how they knew what to say to the people who were experiencing these bad times. As I grew older and eventually entered into the ministry, I found myself in the position that I had witnessed my parents fulfilling, trying to comfort someone. There are no easy words to say in these situations but the words that are said actually give those who are grieving a sense of peace. When we visit someone who is grieving and offer words to console them, this is called the act of comforting one another. This morning I want to talk about this act of comforting one another.
I. Our Need For Comfort
I do not know about each of you, but as a man, I struggle with being on the receiving end of comfort. Let me explain. I feel much better when I am able to provide comfort to someone else verse allowing someone else to comfort me. When I am comforting others, I am the one meeting a need versus being the one in need. Call it pride or whatever, but I struggle with being on the receiving side. I remember grieving when my mother died and all I could think about was being alone. When I have experienced difficult emotional times, I tend to want to deal with it alone. Now let me give you some insight into this way of thinking: dealing with things alone gives the impression (false as it may be) that I am in control and therefore strong. This is especially true with a lot of men; we do not like being emotional or needing comfort. We run from the very appearance of being weak. Even as young boys this seed is planted within us; that we must be strong, not weak. Crying is weak. Needing comfort is a weakness. A son falls down and scratches his knee and his father says "deal with it – be a man." A daughter falls down and scratches her knee and that same father would do whatever he could to "comfort" his daughter because she is a female. Men are to be strong and never be in need of anything in a "supportive" manner. I believed this lie for most of my life and sometimes it can be a scary process to put down a belief that has become a very part of who you are and learn a new way. Let me explain to you why walking the way I have walked for many years is dangerous.
One of the tools that Satan uses so effectively against us is the tool of isolation. There are many times when we isolate ourselves from those who are in a position to help us because we do not know how to receive comfort or even worse, ask for help. There can be a fear factor of being vulnerable (and or weak) as I mentioned before. We also isolate ourselves when we do not want other people to know our business. Have you ever been so embarrassed that you refused to ask for or seek out help because of your embarrassment? I have been there and I tell you, I actually felt better thinking that I was doing myself good by keeping my problems private. Then there is the problem that comes with confiding in the wrong person. Sometimes we confide in someone who does not keep our confidence or who is glad that we are struggling because they may have some hidden animosity against us. These thoughts were such an active part of my life that when someone would ask me how I was doing I would respond with these words: "I cannot complain. Besides, who would I complain to? Half the people do not care about my problems and the other half is glad I am getting what’s coming to me." Now although I would say this jokingly, when I look at how I respond in other situations when I could really use some comfort, I think deep down somewhere within me, I believed this and therefore when I spoke these words, they were words of truth for me.
When we place ourselves in isolation, Satan wins. God always has someone out there to share His word, His wisdom and His comfort with us just as we are to be sharing that same comfort with others. In order to receive this, we must get beyond the stigma of being weak. I am not there yet as I have few people that I can be this transparent with. But, I can imagine what my life will be like when I actually can share freely with many other Christians and I know they have my back without judging me. You see, Satan is the great accuser and he wants us to believe that everyone operates according to his standard. If you operate according to his standard, you will not trust anyone with anything because you accept his lie that sooner or later those individuals whom you trusted will betray you or use what you shared against you. We must move beyond this. Let me share with you what God tells us about us comforting one another.