Over the last three years, I have been drawn to a particular verse, 2 Corinthians 1:14, over and over. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. (New Living Translation)
To be completely honest, after learning that my son, Reed, was one of four beautiful children killed in the Lakeview school bus crash, I believed that I might never be able to comfort anyone ever again, so great was the hole in my heart! In reality, time doesn't heal, but God's love does. Almost instantaneously, God's comfort (big and small) began to arrive, from a ride for me to the hospital to see my sons to someone calling to state they would care for our animals. From prayers to meals and cards to phone calls, God's comfort simply didn't stop. The love and support just kept on coming.
Our youth pastor volunteered to be a big brother to our kids, and he kept that promise, knowing that he could never replace Reed. When we arrived home from a small vacation on July 27, 2008, to sirens blaring in Marshall, once again, God sent his comfort to sit on my couch, hold my hand, and tell us that our beloved, "new" big brother, Andy Wiersma, was gone.
My thoughts were how could I ever comfort anyone, but God never failed and continued to send His comfort, not only to our family and Andy's family, but also to our entire Marshall Evangelical Free Church family, particularly that of our senior pastor.
While we all miss Reed and Andy everyday, we can now look back through the eyes of God's comfort that he was preparing our hearts and the heart of our church to be COMFORTERS to those who are grieving. Even when we couldn't see through our tears, God's plan was for us to use our pain to help others.
Today, just as the verse asks us to do, God has called a small group of leaders at Marshall E-Free to offer an ecumenical grief recovery/support group, called GriefShare. Our mission is to give back to the communities that have supported all of us over the past few years with losses we have suffered. GriefShare is a 13-week video and discussion group that allows individuals to openly discuss their grief journey and helps each one move from "mourning to joy." Our small, intimate group is free, open to the public, and meets each Thursday from 7-8:30 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall in the basement of the Marshall Evangelical Free Church. There is a wonderful resource/companion book that follows along with the video series that is gifted to each participant or family to take home and continue their journey of healing. We deeply understand that losing someone you love hurts, and we rejoice in the comfort that God continues to send our way. If you are experiencing the loss of someone, we invite you to learn more about that comfort, by joining us at GriefShare. For more information, please contact us at our church, 507-532-4804.
Thank you, a saying that doesn't seem large enough to share my gratitude, but sincerely, thank you from all of us who have been given God's comfort in order that we may give it away to others.