This week I met a hostage and a captor and they were the same person. I promise, I did! They were frustrated about a wrong recently done to their child and then they told me how they couldn’t deal with the present situation because of their past experiences. As soon as I said I would step in, they gladly handed over the current situation and raced away and I haven’t been able to get the whole ordeal out of my mind. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized I have done that exact same thing before. I have said out loud and in my mind, “Why do I have to do this?” or “You better not forget all that I have gone through.” It’s at that point that I take every natural experience of life (including death) and seek to use them for selfish leverage. I know that’s a stinging comment – particularly for those who have experienced pain and loss (which would mean everyone who is reading this). We feel justified in our sorrow and in our anger. We have a right to be mad. We have a right to be sorrowful. But does that right give us the authority to force others into our anger or sorrow? Some think so and they are both hostages and captors. They are hostages to their own grief and captors of others, whom they seek (unintentionally and intentionally) to join them in their depression.
Before you subconsciously think that I do not have a heart or that I am a hypocrite (Come on James, you never cry about the death of your wife?) know that I do believe that grief and anger are both very real. The two creep up on me just when I think I am “ok,” and I have to slip into a hallway or outside in the middle of the night, so that my bitter tears do not scare the students of my school, or wake up my sleeping daughter. But when I lost my wife, I had the same choice as each one of you do. Would I (will I) allow the loss to hold me hostage and keep me from smiling, laughing, and living? Would I be exempt from responsibility of every present and future difficulty because I had already faced the worst that this life has to offer? Again, some would say “Yes!” Friends, we are not owed the world’s pity – especially when it’s forced or when we are actually trying to avoid life. For those who believe in God, He is very clear about the expectations of His comfort.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
The comfort we receive from God…and our friends is intended for each of us to share with those around us. I don’t ask God to surround me with people who will understand what I have experienced. Instead, I ask Him to surround me with people who need to hear how He continues to do the impossible in my life; in bringing me through the valley of the shadow of death, where He provided the grace to trust Him in releasing my bride back to Her Creator. His comfort is overwhelming and I seek to overwhelm others with the comfort He has given so that they can do the same for others. I am blessed to have had a close group who supported Jaime, Felicity, and me as Jaime battled her cancer and then succumbed to her illness. I speak about them frequently because I will never forget their faces, their prayers, their love, and the way my wife’s face would light up when she would talk about all that they had done for us. Two years later, their comfort continues – Not so that I can be held hostage to Jaime’s death, or force captives to feel a pain they could never truly understand, but so that, instead, the focus is on the life she lived, the life we shared, and the life Felicity and I have yet to live. It’s a choice for you too!