There are so many things that I remember about the day that we found out that my mom had cancer. Weird things like the way that my little brother and I were building a fort with the couch cushions and somehow knew to push pause on our imaginations when the phone rang and she sat down heavily in a kitchen chair, taking in the news from the doctor that would change us all. I remember how it was raining, hard and fast like bullets full of water and bad news pelting our home. Thunder and lightning took turns in the sky until, all at once, they couldn’t wait for the other so they played together so loud and strong that our clock fell off of our kitchen wall.
It was hanging right above the phone, who’s ring that day was far louder and heavier and more disastrous than the storm.
It wasn’t long before my dad rushed home followed by my grandparents and aunts and uncles. There was hugging and crying. Then there was lots of food and lots of looks, both offered with the intention to comfort. That’s what I remember the most though, the comfort.
When all of us crowded into my childhood home and got nearer and nearer to each other, we comforted. The presence of people that loved deeply and were in the same boat full of struggle and storm was comforting because that’s what nearness does.
It wasn’t just the people that comforted though. No, all of the people there in our kitchen with the clock falling down were simply doing what God had done for each of us already.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” Psalms 34:18 NLT
Just like a parent, a grandparent, a husband, a wife, a friend pushes in close during your time of need, the Lord draws near to you and your broken heart.
If you are struggling today and your spirit is crushed. If you are grieving and lonely and can’t see past the tears that are washing your face like rain, hear this – the Lord is near.
He is not far. He’s not uncomfortable around your sadness. He doesn’t fumble around looking for the words to say or wondering if a hug would be appropriate. No, he draws near to you and comforts.
“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,” 2 Corinthians 1: 2-4a NIV
All comfort can be found in Him because He is near to you. He will not turn away or abandon you in your sorrow. He won’t diminish it or wait until you’re all better before coming around again. He will sit with you and hold your hand. He will wipe your tears and stay.
I was talking to my son Judah about what he learned at church today. The parent board outside his classroom said they were learning that “God Leads.” I asked him about it and he promptly corrected me.
“No we didn’t learn that. We learned that God leaves. He leaves us!” Judah said.
He had misheard the teachers and thought they had said “leaves” instead of “leads.” Kind of an important theological difference!
“No buddy,” I told him. “The Bible tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us. He does lead us though! He shows us the way to go and what to do.”
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this today because this idea of God comforting us and drawing near to us has been heavy on my heart. And just like He always does, the Holy Spirit showed me one last little lesson.
So often, we think that God leaves. We think that in our struggle, we are flying solo, all alone to weed through grief or disappointment or loneliness. We’ve misunderstood though.
God never leaves, He never forsakes. Instead, he cozies up beside us with tissues and a blanket and offers comfort that is unmatched.
God never leaves. He leads.
“He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalms 23: 2b-4 NIV
Take comfort in the nearness of God. Know that He is right there beside you. He hasn’t left you, but He is leading you through, away from your place of sorrow to quiet waters full of refreshment and peace.
That day when the clock fell off of the wall was only the beginning of the storm in my family’s life, but that clock ticked off the moments as they passed from grief to joy. And just as time is faithful to move and pass us by, God is faithful to stay and carry us through.
He is near and He will do the same for you.