On Tuesday morning, a gentle spring thunderstorm rolled through Mt. Haley Township. Another round of earth-nourishing rain fell through a cool air mass that had me wearing a sweatshirt on the last week of May. Storms of varying degrees of intensity came and went throughout the remainder of the day and into the night. In the midst of all the rain, thunder, and wind, one thing remained constant:
Our dog Jake was terrified out of his mind.
We added Jake to our family about seven years ago. He came from a rescue organization in Ohio, and his age and birthplace were unknown to everyone. Over the years, we have come to believe that Jake may be a “Katrina dog” – that is, a dog who was born in the New Orleans area and survived the terror of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. We believe this because he dislikes getting wet in any way and because he shows signs of extreme anxiety at the slightest rumble: thunder, gunshots, firecrackers, or anything else that might remind him of a terribly frightening storm.
Yesterday’s storms were no exception: all day long, Jake whined, paced, yelped, and was generally inconsolable. By the evening, even the sound of falling rain sent him into a panic, as if he could sense that a thunderclap might come in the near future.
Tara and I tried to comfort him in different ways at different times. But we have realized that nothing we can do – short of giving him sedatives, which we have never done – will help this poor dog survive the emotional trauma of a thunderstorm. (Opening day of rifle season in November is another fun day for us!)
Have you ever been inconsolable due to a traumatic event in your life? Or has someone around you experienced such emotional stress that you could not comfort him or her? Or have you ever been overwhelmingly occupied by a burden to share the love of Christ with someone around you?
In all three of these situations, the message of Jesus Christ reaches out to us and transforms us. Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. In this opening passage of the letter, Paul writes about the comfort of God available to those who identify with Christ. Two truths are readily apparent: any comfort in this world comes from God, and the comfort we have received must be shared with others around us. Yet a third truth – having to do with enduring suffering for the sake of the gospel – captures my attention today.
Are we afflicted with sufferings for the cause of Christ? Does our faith in Christ find expression in our lives in ways that cost us something? Are we in need of divine comfort because we are sharing in the sufferings of our Lord?
Or do we have more in common with Jake, who reacts with fear to the world around him, even though he is perfectly safe in the care of his providers? Do we merely wait for God to comfort us in our everyday distress?
Surely everyday comfort is important, but I believe it is more important to be in need of divine comfort because of our active participation in the work of God. Let’s get to work!