So that...

Over the past fews months, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 has become one of my favorite passages of scripture:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Do you believe that?  Have you lived it?   I have witnessed this reality of scripture played out over and over in the lives of many, as well as my own.  There is a comfort... an encouragement, that comes only with the experience as we look to God for our comfort.

Twenty-five years ago Frank and I experienced the loss of our baby at just 20 weeks.  It was tragic and heartbreaking for both of us.   A friend who had experienced similar circumstances came and sat next to me -- simply that, sat beside me, and brought comfort.  She knew the comfort I needed.  Later, and many, many times over, I have gone and sat beside another... and brought that same comfort... simply because I experienced it.

I've watched friends, with difficult diagnosis of cancer, reach out to others... more recently receiving that same news; text, call, and sit beside... they understand the comfort needed.  They have received it from the Father of compassion.

I've made the call to a friend whose children were older than mine, wailing, "I don't know what to do with this situation - this challenge - this hurt."  She came and simply sat beside me and brought comfort with words of Godly wisdom and words of comfort.

Struggling with anxiety, I've observed a friend willing to call or text or write a note of encouragement to another struggling with the same challenge.  Realizing the first friend hasn't "conquered" these feelings of panic, but knowing the Source of comfort in trouble gives hope to another.

Plagued with chronic pain, I recently heard Frank on the phone with someone struggling with ongoing pain.  I understand how you feel I understand your frustration, I know the comfort I've received from depending on God... pain hasn't been removed, but comfort has surely come... in the midst of pain.

SO that... As you have been comforted by the God of all compassion, please offer that same understanding of comfort as you share the compassion and encouragement to others.  Allow the comfort you have received to bless another.  We have been comforted SO THAT we can comfort others with the comfort we understand in a way others cannot!

Someone needs to hear that they are not alone, there is comfort in their suffering.  Would you be the one to sit beside the one, to bring words of encouragement, to listen with compassionate understanding as only you can do!  Send the text, make the call... even better... just go and sit beside them.

I've got (I want) peace like a river...

You've probably sung the song...
I've got peace like a river, 
I've got peace like a river, 
I've got peace like a river in my soul.. 

 or have, at least, heard someone else sing it.  Most often it would be accompanied by the gentle strum of a guitar... likely around a sweet campfire on a cool fall evening, right??

When I was in high school, a group of families. took an annual trip to the Nantahala River in North Carolina.  This particular year, there were several young families with their young children, so I was hired as the babysitter to keep the kids while the adults rafted or canoed this "anything but" peaceful river. The Nantahala is touted as the "continuous, exciting class 2 and 3 whitewater on the famous 8 ½ mile stretch of river ".  Now I know that, on the scale of crazy whitewater rafting, class 2 and 3 aren't exactly Olympic status, but a thrill of a ride, for sure.  After a couple of practice days, the adults decided it was safe to take the younger children down the river on rafts.  We suited up, and although I had been down the river before, I was a little uneasy with all the kids and their "lack of experience" in the raft.  After many reminders about safety and an additional check of all equipment along with one more tug on each life jacket, we were off!  The July sun was shining with all its might, but the river water is still a chilling temperature, and the constant spray in your face is ... let's go with exhilarating!  

We knew we were headed into one of the most challenging rapids, so reminders of safety were now yelled to all.  As we hit the rolling white water, our raft seemed to launch into the air in flight.  I remember pushing one of the children down into the middle of the boat, but as I pushed down, somehow I was lifted up.  In a second I was out of the raft trying to grasp the side in order to pull myself back in.  I know the rules... just allow the current to take you on down the river - feet up - to avoid getting hurt.  I seem to remember some well meaning guide, offer the idea, "just lie back and enjoy the ride!"

I was trying my best to model the right thing to do... to be the brave, invincible teenager, and then, without any warning, the raft I had popped out of was pushing me under the water as it made its way over my head.  Can I just say... there was NO peace... there was MUCH panic.  The boat was actually stuck on a rock just ahead of me, and I was stuck under the boat... you understand this... I WAS UNDER THE RAFT!  UNDER THE WATER!  My boat captain was aware and acted quickly to maneuver the boat, and I was pulled to safety.  (Although I know he acted quickly, I was under there a VERY long time!)

When I was finally back in the boat with a towel of warmth wrapped securely around me, even in my shaking body, there it was: peace.  I was safe; I had been rescued. The rapids had not ceased, but my storm of uncertainty was calmed. 

As I've relived and retold that story, I often seem to gain new insight.  You see, we were only about halfway through our 8-mile river trip - some of the bigger rapids were still ahead of us - those I couldn't even see yet, but they were still there.   Yet, I knew peace. 

Peace... its promised to us in God's word; it doesn't seem to make sense to us... how it comes, when it comes, the unexplainable reality of it as it covers us.

I think I have learned that the peace we experience is often best understood against a backdrop of chaos.  Anyone agree?

When the disciples were panicked (rightly so) in a raging storm, Jesus simply spoke, "Peace, be still".  And the storm ceased.  I wonder if they remembered the storm later when Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit.  His words were clear:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27

Today may be a day filled with uncertainty and turmoil.  Rest in the reality of Jesus' words, 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.  John 16:33

So, maybe the advice of lie back and enjoy the ride might be better given:
Take the next step and hold tight to ONE who offers peace in the midst of the storm.