“The God of all comfort… comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (2 Cor. 1:3-5, NIV).
“My baby! My baby!” the young mother shrieked in grief, stumbling after the nurses solemnly pushing the metal cart. They emerged suddenly out of the double doors into the ICU waiting area. All of us other parents looked up with startled, sorrowful faces. On top of the cart was a tiny, still human form wrapped in paper. This mother’s little one had just departed into eternity.
I had to stop and compose myself, writing that last paragraph. I grabbed a washcloth to wipe the tears off my face. The memory stirs the deep places in me. But I wanted to share it with you, to let you know what it was like in that children’s hospital waiting area.
We sat on hard wooden benches there all day, waiting. Waiting to be let in to see our own babies. Waiting, watching other parents weep. The paint on the walls was peeling, the atmosphere silent and sad. Cold air moved in through the open windows, chilling our bones. I kept my winter coat on and sunk deeply into it, looking for comfort.
It would have been easy to numb myself to everyone else’s pain. I had plenty of my own to deal with. However, the Comforter was there, and I knew it. He was palpably there. He was sitting with all of us. He was hurting with us. Every chance I got, I wanted to share Him with the others. I wanted them to know how passionately He cared about their babies and their anguish.
I won’t lie and say that I was energetic about this sharing. Sometimes I just needed to sit there at length in my own silence, gathering strength. But when Holy Spirit gave me specific nudges, I moved on them. This provided me with unique ministry opportunities that will never repeat themselves again.
In those moments, I was ministering as a co-sufferer. There’s something sacred about that; something sacred about saying to someone next to you, “My heart is bleeding too. We are bleeding together. Beautiful, deeply caring Jesus is here, bleeding with us. He has wounds too. And He has power and love to provide us, far greater than this pain. His power and love will intervene for your baby and for you.”
I found that His power flowed through me at my most vulnerable in striking ways. This was because I really had absolutely nothing to give. I was spent. It was all Him. And He generously poured Himself out to those around me needing Him. On precious faces, I could see tangible comfort ease the distress lines. Jesus really was there with us, tangibly. I am eternally grateful to report that several of those priceless souls surrendered their lives to Jesus during that time.
I have subsequently come to understand that the Kingdom impact of Lily’s story was not only there at the hospital. I had posted daily updates on Facebook throughout her hospitalization. This was because I understood how vitally essential the prayers of the saints were to her healing. I urgently wanted everyone to know how to pray. I have since found out that my ongoing log of our experiences reached into many hearts and homes.
Since Lily’s return home, I have received countless messages from friends around the world sharing that my journey with Lily helped strengthen their faith. One in particular sticks out in my heart. A brother opened his heart to let me know that his wife was recently diagnosed with cancer. She is going through chemotherapy and battling for her life. He shared that my trust in God through our painful trial has leant him strength for his own. That is precious beyond words to me.
In every season of our lives, there will always be someone in our path that needs to encounter His love. In the most brutal seasons, it can be so hard to look beyond our own pain to reach out to others. Ultimately, though, doing so will help you through your own suffering.
When you experience the joy of seeing His love reach into the heart of someone who never experienced it before, you know. In the very core of you, you know how exceedingly worth the sacrifice it was to offer yourself as His instrument in those moments. That person is extraordinarily precious to Jesus. He would leave heaven to search for them. He already did. And now He went to great lengths to make sure that you are there, at their side. Open your heart up and let Him flow through you to them. He will, dear one. He will provide all the strength and all the love that you both need.
Those moments of my life in the ICU waiting room will never repeat themselves. The Hospital del Niňo in Lima, Peru, will not let me in now… because I don’t have a child staying there. Their security measures are severely strict, and guards parole every door and hallway. Those were once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I can’t get them back. I am forever grateful that I was given the opportunity for Jesus’ love to flow through my embrace while I was there. I will probably never see those beautiful souls again, this side of heaven. But I will see them There.
“And if you pour out that with which you sustain your own life for the hungry and satisfy the need of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in darkness, and your obscurity and gloom become like the noonday” (Isa. 58:10, AMPC).
Do you have a story of seeing God move through you in someone else’s life, in the midst of your own hardship? I’d love to hear about it!