The Comforter

Our three sons came in out of the cold and readied for bed. The favorite cover was the comforter that their Great Grandma Suderman made of squares of corduroy. Each corner held a yarn knot, with the ends sticking up like bits of fuzz, tightening the warm batting in the quilt.

That was years ago, the last time I remember seeing the quilt was when the Combs brothers were in high school. One of the brothers told me that the quilt was warm and their favorite cover. It was a comforter. It pushed away the anxieties of the day and wrapped them in its warmth.

What is it that causes us to seek comfort in this world? Why do troubles of this world demand comfort?

The definition of comforter is ‘one who comforts’, a quilted bed cover, a narrow long woollen neck scarf. Those are the three ‘this world’ definitions.

Several years ago I received a package from Linda, from China. It contained a scarf that her hands created for me. When I want a bit of warmth and when I need some comfort, I wear that scarf. It is like a long distance hug. And I see the giver’s hands creating this gift for me in my mind.. This scarf, an ordinary piece of clothing, creates more than physical warmth.

So often in life we hurt and feel a deep physical pain in different parts of our bodies. We are discouraged during those times, the demeanor of our care-giver provides comfort. And that comfort leads to hope of recovery. And that hope brings peace in our hearts.

When families are separated through death, a great sense of loss envelopes that family. When my Dad died, Mom found comfort through words. She wrote in a spiral notebook, called the “Dear Poppa Journal”. When I came home, I read her descriptions of pain and suffering. I knew the tears she shed when she gave away Dad’s clothes, sold his twin bed, watched the garden grow without anyone to share it with and watched the Martins in the evening flock back to the bird house that Dad made. As I look back to the memories, I know that what she wrote about has helped me deal with her death 20 years later.

Sometimes life chills us to the bone. It is then that bright sunshine warms us through and through on a crisp fall day. That sunshine comes in a variety of caring ways. Caring ways of a caring person provides the sunshine that the hurting person needs.

The extraordinary ways we help others is through the ways we are gifted and we give without knowing that we give. I know of one woman whose whole being is ‘giving’. Last night I watched her hold a baby in her arms, I watched her visit with the young mother. Her gift is encouragement and love for others.

Questions pave the way to comfort. Asking questions to understand another’s walk, brings a bridge of empathy between two people. And a stranger becomes a friend. Friendship begins with a smile and a commonality. Comfort begins with sharing love, an experience, or filling a need.

As I thought about the word, comfort or comforter, at midnight one night this week, I was drawn to the filing cabinet. It is a filing cabinet filled with the words that Mom wrote. I wondered if she had considered the meaning of comfort/comforter. What a blessing to know what Mom thought in her own words. It is like having a conversation with her even though she is gone. I might not have listened before, but now, what a blessing. What a comfort!

One of the definitions of the Comforter is The Holy Spirit. Beyond the comfort of words and the lives we have known — through Christ we have The Comforter that Jesus sent. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, guides us and leads us in this life to be what Jesus intends for our lives. We can choose to ignore this inner Comforter, or we can talk with the Comforter and find peace.

Praise! What does praise have to do with The Comforter? Praise, acceptance, hope, rejoicing, forgiveness and encouragement are the warming threads of The Comforter. The Comforter, The Holy Spirit, is God’s Presence within us.

The chilling threadbare characteristics that chills us are envy, discouragement, hatred, criticism, bitterness, and unforgiveness. It is impossible to praise God when these characteristics are torn places in the hearts.

From the Mom’s filing cabinet I found this poem that she wrote:

God Knows Best

If I could push ajar the gate of Life

To stand with God where the future I see

I could interpret all my doubt and strife

And every mystery would have a key.

But not today! Then be content, my heart

God’s plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold

I must not tear the petal-leaves apart

For time alone reveals the hearts of gold.

And if through patient toil I reach that land

Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest

I shall behold and clearly understand

To say, “God knew exactly what was best.”

Psalm 23:4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 119:50My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.

Matthew 5:4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

2 Corinthians 1:4
 Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

John 14:1Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. (My favorite verse)

John 14:16And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 

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