Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Only Comfort in Life & Death

Until a few short hours ago, I was really thinking over the reality of what this world REALLY offers....danger, death, despair. What sense can I make of all this mess? Why are we even here?! My questions, my fear, my despair turned a corner, and I realized I have to hope. I must cling to hope..... I thought of the Heidelberg question: "What is my only comfort in life and death?"

I could define my state this day, this week, this year as somewhat hope-less and very emotionally charged. And very much in need of comfort.

My husband, bless his heart (insert TN Southern girl accent), is a self-admitted crier. He wears his heart on his sleeve. I guess I always thought I was sensitive, but I'm stone cold compared to him! He's always the first one to apologize, yet I can never seem to find the words "I'm sorry." Doing a little self-evaluation I'm recognizing one of my many character flaws is pride. Not the 'give yourself a pat on the back' pride, but a don't-show-how-you-really-feel and pretend-everything-is-perfect pride. Lately, I've even seen how I've even passed this not-quite-coping mechanism to my own daughter. Basically, I've either inherited or just learned to pretend to be inhuman.

I could make excuses and say that it's been my own built-in defense system. Or I could shift the blame and say being shy doesn't really encourage others to delve into getting to know me, much less how I'm feeling.

My emotions have gone awry this year. I mean out of the box of Andrea awry! 'I actually am considering REALLY giving you the speech in my head outloud for once' not so prim and proper Andrea!!

I have not been myself. I've basically been -internally anyway- in a puddle, often unable to hold back my dam of emotions. In October, I was devasted when my dear friend became a widow at 33. Yet, I wondered why I had the right to cry for a week. In January, an accident shortened the earthly life of a young teacher who ran in the same circles as some of my dearest friends. Yet, I thought the flood of emotion I was experiencing was unnatural since I was twice removed from a real friendship with her. This weekend, when I feared that an eye doctor who served the people of Afghanistan for years and had had dinner in my home less than two years ago may have been one of the ten mercilessly killed, my anxiety rose and I literally trembled. I thought it bizarre for me to experience this fear for the life of someone I met only for a few hours. Then, today riding home, checking out the latest Facebook status posts, when I learned that an elementary-through-high school classmate had been widowed by her hero husband serving our country in Afghanistan, the tears poured and I wondered what right do I have to experience this emotion?

I guess I've gotten so used to pushing down my emotion to hide, to protect, and to avoid that when the emotion took me by surprise, I felt ashamed. Ashamed and odd for feeling. Maybe I'm still trying to make excuses for my inability to control my tears, but I think God made us to be in community with one another. He wants us to hurt with one another...in person, or even across the miles through some social network site.

We should desire community where we're not concerned with showing off all our worldly goods and polished wardrobes, but a community where we can expose our souls and find comfort in the shared human experience. A community that holds us up when we've sinned, when we've fallen short, when we are hurting. Even in that idyllic 'community' we cannot be filled. It is only Christ who can minister to our very beings.

He is ABLE be our ONLY comfort in life and death because He did share the human experience even to the point of death!

Am I sad, am I despairing over the state of this rotting world? Yes! Is it just as rotten as it was all those years ago when Christ was crucified for no justifiable reason? Yes?! Yet, I cannot give up hope that it will be restored. In the meantime, when my emotions take me by surprise, I pray that I will welcome them and express them to connect to people who are not six degrees away from me, but who share the one thing we all have in common - souls desperate for love, desperate for hope. Desperate for peace. I pray that I will welcome my emotions, and use them to drive my knees to the ground to pray for the brokenhearted and to move my hands and feet to serve.

So, the next time my emotions take me aback, I might just think my husband's just wearing off on me, or maybe I'm changing....maybe I'm human afterall..

from the Heidelberg Catechism
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,

for his compassions never fail. Lamentations 3:20-22

[Christ] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:7-8


  1. Andrea, this is wonderful. I think I am somewhere between you and Shane with being emotional, but I still struggle with wondering if I have a "right" to be sad for other people's losses. Almost like they would be offended if they found out I was upset, as if they'd think "What did SHE lose? Nothing!" But you are so right, that we are MEANT to weep with our weeping friends, and that it is a beautiful picture of fellowship. Thank you for the reminder of our comfort in the midst of weeping. (I knew one of the guys killed in Afghanistan - we both volunteered with the youth group my senior year in college. I hadn't talked to him since graduation, but I still had tears, and still felt guilty and ashamed of them. So this came at just the right time.)

  2. Keeping our eyes on
    Christ while the tears fill our eyes!
    Bless you