Some years back, at midnight on March 17—Saint Patrick’s Day—I received a call from my 27-year-old son’s roommate in Bermuda. My boy was missing, and his clothing had been found on a nearby beach.
My first reaction was to get on my knees and cry out to God in prayer. As I did, I saw a picture of my son entering heaven to the joy of my parents and other loved ones who had already passed on. I immediately knew he would not be found alive. Sure enough, five days later, his body washed ashore.
What helped me through those difficult days? What was the healing balm? Of course, my relationship with God was my greatest source of comfort, but another important key to my healing in a tangible, physical way was the love and encouragement I received from others.
On my first day in Bermuda, while asking for directions at a shop, I mentioned to the girl working there that I was the father of the young man who had recently drowned. “I’m so sorry,” she said tenderly, and gave me a hug. On numerous other occasions, I received similar encouragement from strangers.
God promises to comfort us in our times of tribulation. Jesus said He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to us. He wants us to be comforted. But if we keep our troubles locked inside, if we keep the pain in, we won’t receive the love and encouragement we need, and our healing process will be longer and perhaps never complete.
So don’t keep those emotions hidden. Don’t suffer in silence. Share your hurt so that others around you can help heal it. God works this way to draw us closer to one another and to make us His arms and hands and lips and ears for one another.
When we receive love and encouragement in our hour of need, we are later able to return that to other anguished or suffering souls who pass our way. “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”1