Ann Weems is an author, poet and lecturer. Her popular book Psalms of Lament, as well as other works are drawn from her personal grief and deep anguish.
“On August 14, 1982, the stars fell from my sky”, writes Weems. “My son Todd had been killed less than an hour after his twenty-first birthday. . . . and I still weep.
During this time, Ann says, “Many were there for me; these tenderhearted ones sent from God who have no idea how deeply they walked into my heart. One of those people was the Biblical scholar, Walter Bruggerman, who was enormously present to me and my family.”
“Many months after my son’s death he called to ask a question, but said I certainly didn’t have to answer if I didn’t want to. He was working on (a commentary on) Jeremiah and asked, ‘Will Rachel be comforted?’”
“I answered with little hesitation, ‘No. No, Rachel will not be comforted. Not here, not now, not in the sense of being ultimately comforted . . . Rachel will only be comforted when God wipes the tears from her eyes.’”
Weems admitted, “Anger and alleluias careen around within me, sometimes colliding. Lamenting and laughter sit side by side in a heart that yearns for the peace that passes understanding. Those who believe in the midst of their weeping.”
The reference to Rachel is Jeremiah’s prophecy when all the male children under two years old were slaughtered following the birth of Jesus. The Bible says.
A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Our word of the week is comfort.
Many of us, like Ann Weems, have suffered the heart-rending agony of having a loved one snatched away in the prime of life. We can relate to her grief and suffering. We’ve lived the hurt and the heartache. The brokenness. The loneliness. Though it may be years removed, there is still a hole in the heart. An emptiness. A gnawing, nagging pain. And we know the longing for comfort.
Without God, the promise of the gospel, and the people of God, it’s difficult to imagine how one copes with such pain. The Bible reminds us of our deep need in such times of trial.
“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 Cor. 1:3-5)
The word “comfort” means to call to one’s side. To summons. To plead the cause of another. In a general sense it refers to a helper, a succorer.
William Hendrikson commented on this passage saying, “Out of compassion flows God’s comforting love. God has tender love for those who are hurting and he comforts them in their hour of need. Whatever the hardships may be, God proves to be near to his saints and reassures them with his all-encompassing support.”
Jesus used the word to describe the Holy Spirit and his work. He is the intercessor that pleads our case in prayer before the throne of God. But the work of comfort is also assigned to those who are led by the Spirit. “Comfort one another” is a frequent exhortation in scripture.
We so desperately desire comfort. In times of sickness. Suffering. Rejection. Disappointment. Loss. Failure. Sin. And death. Believers are called upon to be people of compassion and offer a measure of comfort to those who are hurting
However, someday God will completely heal our hurting heart. Someday He will replace the emptiness we often feel with fullness. Someday He will soothe the soul. Someday God will wipe away all tears. Someday.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman