I was sitting at the Albuquerque airport waiting to board a flight for Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. I was trying to decide what topic to write about this week. The problem was, there were 4 or 5 half-baked topics floating around in my head and I wasn't making much headway. In retrospect, I often look back on situations like this and wonder why I spin my wheels for so long before thinking to pray. As I was sitting there spinning my wheels (and not praying), I noticed a young woman sitting with her back to me. It appeared that she was crying but I couldn't tell since her head was turned the other way. Then she turned her head and removed all doubt - she was definitely crying about something. I noticed the discomfort it was bringing to several people sitting around her. Two guys working on laptops were sitting diagonal from her. They took occasional glances in her direction but made a point of avoiding eye contact. They buried themselves a little deeper in their laptops and pretended not to notice. New people arriving at the gate would eye up seats around her but then divert to other seats when they saw her condition. A string of seats directly across from her remained noticeably empty. Then a couple with 2 small boys came up and claimed the row of seats. The couple ignored the crying woman. The 2 small boys were a different story. In their beautiful innocence, they stared at the crying woman. This eventually made the parents uncomfortable enough to get up and move. I was sitting there through the whole thing trying to think of an unintrusive way of going up and chatting with her. I was thinking of saying something like "You're obviously upset. I'm not the best listener in the world but if you'd like to talk…". But the opportunity passed. It turns out that she was flying out of the gate next door and she boarded before I acted. Psalm 69:20 says:
"Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none."
As Christians, we are naturally equipped to be comforters. We are plugged in to the one true source of hope - which is the greatest comfort of all. God calls us to share the source of our hope and comfort. I don't know if this woman was looking for comfort. She may have even been put off by some strange man offering help. We are conditioned to assume strangers have selfish motives for their actions. It's an obvious hurdle but it is also a help. The help is the added impact when the person realizes there are no selfish motives.
There are many people out there in need of comfort. Many of them are not as obvious as the woman at the airport - they put on the happy veneer even though the inside is torn up. A couple things to think about if you find yourself in a position of providing comfort:
1. Just do it. I sat around thinking of the right thing to say for so long that opportunity passed. It can be very uncomfortable going up to a stranger when there is a whole bunch of people doing the opposite.
2. Be authentic.
3. Listen. Don't have an agenda. Sometimes it's hard to just sit back and listen to someone share their grief - especially if they are an unbeliever and the answer to their problem seems so obvious to us. This is when it's important to remember what it was like before we were saved.
So this Wednesday we are praying for all those who need comfort. That if they haven't already, they will find the true source of deep lasting comfort. And that as His servants, we will be comforters to those around us who need it.
Have a great week and a great fast.
3 years ago