"Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones."
Isaiah 49:13The night before I started nursing school, I spent some time reading my Bible and my favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert. I wanted to prepare my heart for what's in store during this upcoming season as I balance an accelerated nursing program with work and life. When I opened the devotional to January 11, the day I began school, I was speechless. I don't think it could've been any more appropriate for the journey ahead:
"Comfort, comfort my people, says your God." (Isaiah 40:1) Store up comfort. This was the prophet Isaiah's mission. The world is full of hurting and comfortless hearts. But before you will be competent for this lofty ministry, you must be trained. And your training is extremely costly, for to make it complete, you too must endure the same afflictions that are wringing countless hearts of tears and blood. Consequently, your own life becomes the hospital ward where you are taught the divine art of comfort. You will be wounded so that in the binding up of your wounds by the Great Physician, you may learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere. Do you wonder why you are having to experience some great sorrow? Over the next ten years you will find many others afflicted in the same way. You will tell them how you suffered and were comforted. As the story unfolds, God will apply the anesthetic He once used on you to them. Then in the eager look followed by the gleam of hope that chases the shadow of despair from the soul, you will know why you were afflicted. And you will bless God for the discipline that filled your life with such a treasure of experience and helpfulness. God comforts us not to make us comfortable but to make us comforters. - John Henry Jowett
What's so beautiful is that this passage may mean something completely different to you in whatever you're walking through, and may encourage your heart in different ways than it did mine. God's Word is living and active, that's for sure. He is so gentle in meeting us where we are and providing the encouragement we need.
In some ways, this seemed to me as much a prophesy as an encouraging devotional. It's a beautiful reminder that our sufferings and trials are often for the comfort of others. I believe that my illness of last year will be used to comfort others, as it gave me the experience of suffering unlike anything I've ever endured in order that I'll be able to understand - at least a little - the suffering my patients are undergoing.
More than anything, though, the comfort I am to bring to others is the comfort in this life that Jesus has given me. Comfort, not in the sense of ease, but in the sense that whatever I'm going through, I know it won't compare to what's ahead for me in the presence of the Lord. Any comfort that I'm able to feel temporarily makes me long for eternal comfort even more. And that only comes from Jesus.
My prayer is that I wouldn't just go through the daily grind of learning skills, doing homework, writing papers, and doing clinical rotations, but that I would grasp a Heavenly perspective that I am dealing with souls - not just bodies.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer."
2 Corinthians 1:3-6
Post edit: Just as I was about to post this, I got a call that my Granddaddy passed away. I'll write more later because I was able to see him a couple weeks ago and spend some precious time, but I guess this post was more than just about nursing. It was Jesus ministering to me before I even knew I needed it.