Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in ALL our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
We sat in a circle. Four of us in our flimsy plastic chairs hands clasped together, heads bowed, tears flowing freely. Two of us had never met before that holy moment of desperate prayer. All we knew is we had a shared sorrow. We had experienced the deep grief of miscarriage.
It’s strange to meet someone and find yourself deeply and instantaneously connected. Especially when it’s a connection you never wanted and hoped you’d never have. For my new young momma friend, it was a grief beyond words. She was raw and vulnerable. As we talked for a few minutes, I realized she lost her baby at the same time I’d lost mine—13 weeks. A time when you feel pregnant and feel safe sharing the news with family and friends. Then a visit to the doctor reveals a silent heart. The rest, for both of us, was a whirlwind of tears and denial and anger and anguish and fear, letting the reality of loss seep into my soul. I remember driving away from the doctor’s office that day thinking even the color of the sky had changed. The world seemed greyer, darker, drearier.
As I held this precious momma’s hand, I knew how to pray for her. I knew the anguish that filled her soul. Oh how I wish she never had to walk this broken path. We talked about all the platitudes people offer to comfort your broken heart. Well-meaning friends and family, who truly only want to make things better, often serve to pour salt into an already agonizing wound. I remember, for me, it was the “Be thankful you’ve got three healthy kids at home” reminder. I was thankful. But I missed this precious soul I would never get to meet this side of heaven. I needed to remember this child and grieve this child—even if I never held him or her physically, I held the dream of them in my heart. Reorienting my life without THIS child would take time and tears.
Right after my doctor visit, I met a dear friend who also walked through this pain. I knew she would let me cry, but she would also speak truth. She reminded me of the goodness of God in the heartbreaks of life. She reminded me of His great love for me and this child. She reminded me of God’s comfort and His promise to never leave me nor forsake me. She reminded me that He is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. And this precious friend, after some time of letting me grieve, reminded me that I was to give away the comfort He had given me during the darkest days.
So there we sat in our little circle. The friend God allowed to comfort me all those years ago and me; offering the compassion and comfort we found through our heartache to this precious one who was now walking through this desert place. Hearts aching, tears flowing, grieving the reality of this sinful world and the death and sorrow that are certainties in this fallen place. Yet as we prayed and openly, honestly laid our sorrows before the Lord, He brought the peace only He could give. He reminded us of His good gifts, even in the midst of our hurt and pain. He reminded us that He uses these moments of grief to draw us closer to His heart. When we find fellowship with Him in the darkest, most broken places of life, we find His love more extravagant, more remarkable, more dependable, more real, more tangible, than we ever have before.
Walking through Job again recently I was reminded of a verse that perfectly expressed the beauty from ashes God gives after deep grief.
“I had heard you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you.” Job 42:5
When you walk through deep pain and loss as a lover of God and follower of Christ, a beautiful reality begins to break through the grief. It’s as if the veil between heaven and earth is lifted and the longing for home, our true home, becomes an ache beyond words. We don’t just know about God, we have fellowshipped with Him. We have walked through a small taste of the grief and pain he experienced in the death of His son. We don’t just have the words, now we have experienced the pain.
It is in the fellowship of the broken, the road we never desire to walk, the grief we never desire to face, that we find how faithful He is. How comforting He is. How real His grace and peace are, and how He truly does carry us and hold us, and catch our tears in a bottle and draw near to us as we draw near to Him. The fellowship of the broken is not a group we want to belong to, but it is a place we find He is. And when we find Him there and experience His comfort, if we let Him, He will use our pain to allow us to comfort others. In the hands of our Abba, our pain always has purpose.