During a recent worship service, I was moved to tears. They came suddenly and unexpectedly. Rolling down my face.. falling uncontrollably from my heart. As usual, I was unprepared for this event. I never have tissue in my purse. Most of the time I don't even have a purse. You would think that having been a Girl Scout leader for 12 years, I would at least follow the most basic of the Girl Scout Laws; "Be Prepared". But, not me.
Fortunately, my dear friend was sitting next to me in the church pew and she noticed my dilemma. She is ALWAYS organized and prepared and I don't know if she ever was a Girl Scout. It is her God given gift to be prepared.
She reached into her ever ready and always well stocked purse and produced a hanky.
Well, actually it was a man's handkerchief.
Seriously? She actually had a handkerchief in her Mary Poppins bag of surprises. I am not sure why she carries a man's handkerchief in her purse. Who in the world carries a handkerchief anymore?
Maybe she believes that at some point in time her big manly man husband will burst into uncontrollable bouts of crying and she will be able to come to his rescue.
Or maybe she has sat beside me in church for so long that she knows that at some point in time I will have the need for a hanky and, as always, be without one.
She has such a sweet heart. She is a sweetheart.
Nevertheless, she armed me with the handkerchief and I was able to wipe the tears from my face and eyes and produce a smile. A hanky is sooooo much nicer than a tissue.
She comforted me.
It made me think of Christ. He is our Comforter.
There are two words used in the Bible which are translated as 'comforter'.
The first is from the root word Nacham which means "to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted, suffer grief, repent, to comfort oneself, ease oneself."
This is a good thing that we can comfort ourselves. It is healthy to be able to acknowledge our circumstance, to feel regret or suffer grief and comfort ourselves. We can do this by counting our blessings, by looking for the silver lining, by drawing close to God.
However, self comfort can also be self destructive, such as when Esau was so jealous of his brother Jacob that he actually tried to ease the pain of that jealousy by plotting to kill Jacob. (Genesis 27: 42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, "Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you.")
When we think we are wronged , do we comfort ourselves with thoughts of revenge? of getting even?
On the other hand, when we do something we know is wrong, do we try to justify and console ourselves by wrong thinking and reasoning? We are sorry, but it has to be somebody's fault. Do we comfort ourselves by placing the blame elsewhere?
The other word for comforter is from the Greek word "parakletos" which is translated as: summoned or called to one's side or to one's aid; or one who pleads another's cause before a judge, an advocate; an intercessor; or of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins; in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant; of the Holy Spirit destined to take the place of Christ with the apostles (after his ascension to the Father), to lead them to a deeper knowledge of the gospel truth, and give them divine strength needed to enable them to undergo trials and persecutions on behalf of the divine kingdom.
Jesus is the Parakletos. He is The Comforter. The Holy Spirit.
I don't believe that I can add anything to that definition.
Isn't it grand to know that when we are overcome by the cares of the world, Jesus comes to our side to hold and comfort us... to catch our tears in His hands? Does He have a giant handkerchief in His pocket to wipe away our tears? Does Jesus even have a pocket where He can keep a hanky?
When we are wronged, He is our strength. When we do wrong and repent, He stands before the Father pleading His blood over us.
He is the Spirit that moves my friend to be prepared with a hanky just when I need it. It is her ministry to a sister in Christ. It is Jesus acting through her to be the Comforter.
We get to choose which comforter we reach for in times of stress and trouble. No matter what the circumstance, we have a choice. Do we choose to comfort ourselves? Or do we allow THE Comforter to come to our aid?
It is astonishing that a single act of kindness to a hurting heart becomes an act of Holiness. We can all take a lesson from the handkerchief. Allow God to use us to reach out to others in their pain and be Jesus to them.
Thank you my sweet friend.