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Shot Of The Day

The Comfort Marker

OK, so I’ve had this thought for a long time but I’ve never been able to find the right words. Funny how tragedy brings perspective to an otherwise over-stimulated life. Today, I found the words in the middle of saying possibly my last “love you” to my dog Gator before he was wheeled into surgery. That’s my boy in the photo wearing my favorite cowboy hat. Isn’t he the bomb? As I write this, our 12 year old 90-pound yellow lab (who never got an ounce of yellow and is white as a polar bear), is in surgery having a soccer-ball sized tumor removed from his belly. His symptoms came on suddenly and the emails, facebook posts and phone calls started a flurry of prayers and responses from friends, family and animal lovers around the globe. Many of them were from people who love us and hate to see us grieve over something we love. But others, the ones that helped me articulate this thought, came from a select breed of comforters. A breed of comforters who find the unconditional affection of a pet like a statement from God that He made certain things for no other reason than the fact that they delight us… comfort us… give us a taste of unconditional love not found very easily in the harsh world. This breed of comforters wells up with tears as soon as you say “Gator isn’t doing well.” They can’t stand to hear what’s going on but they can’t stand being in the dark more so they text, call, email, and tweet until you answer with an update. Our pain makes them remember the unconditional love they’ve felt or feel from their own furry friend. This breed can feel your pain so acutely that they weep when you are weeping and finish your sentences when you say things like, “He never left my side when I…” They can’t stand waiting for the news about the progress of the surgery, so they call others that know you to see if they’ve heard anything yet. This breed of comforter is giving love from a different place. A place I never had a name for until today. A place I would now call a “comfort marker.” Bear with me as I round out the epiphany. Ironically, God seemed to be preparing me for the events of this weekend in the most unexpected way. I preached a sermon on Sunday called DO SOMETHING. I spoke about how GOD creatively uses people in the hurting world to do HIS work stirring us up in areas where we have suffered or experienced pain. When we see someone suffering in an area where we have already received healing or comfort, we are magnetized to. We feel a tug to comfort that person because we can’t stand to think that someone would suffer the way we did without comfort. We know there is this place on the other side of pain when it has finally diminished or passed. That alone is comforting. We have inside us the comfort we received from GOD through the love of others. It is as if GOD put a comfort marker inside us which heats up when we see the same type of suffering. It is our prompt to DO SOMETHING! My central example was about a missionary in Mozambique who found a 5 year old rape victim on her steps. She had been discarded and left to die. The girl was so traumatized by the abuse that she couldn’t speak. She could only weep. So that’s what she did for months, weep, as this missionary simply held her, loved her and consoled her. A short time later, another badly abused child showed up on the steps. The missionary felt helpless with this one as well so she did the same thing — held, rocked, loved — only this time, she had help. Yes, you guessed it, the mute child who had been raped but healed through the comfort of a missionary just walked in one day and started to rock and hold and love while this hurting girl wept. She had a comfort marker that heated up when she saw the suffering she had already experienced and it was her sign to DO SOMETHING. Every person in my life who has been comforted by the unconditional love of a pet felt that comfort marker warm up and off they went to, as my mom would say, do the Lord’s work. The bible says “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” We think that comfort comes straight from heaven and indeed it does, but often it through the arms of people being stirred up by something pure and holy. They may not call it GOD or even know what it is, but we don’t have to look around the world very long to know that it is not of this world. It is from a different place. And by refusing to ignore the comfort marker and by actually DOING SOMETHING with this stirring, we come to know GOD more. He invades us until we want more and more of this pure and holy thing because it is so much better than what the world has to offer. And if all goes as planned, we will become one big comfort marker to the hurting world. As I write this last bit, my husband is telling me that the Doctor just called. Gator is in recovery. I think I can sleep now. From my family to yours, thank you for your prayers, your comfort and your love. Blessed are those who mourn for they SHALL BE COMFORTED! I so believe that.

Posted: 29 August 2011