By DAN HALL
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. – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I always feel honored to be asked to contribute to Mississippi Christian Living magazine. Sometimes I am assigned the topic, and other times I write what’s on my heart and mind. This month was a little tricky: Its focus includes both racial reconciliation and cancer awareness.
So I noodled around with both of those and considered their commonalities. One thing they both share is tragedy.
The fact remains that our nation, wherever you think we are today, has been deeply marked by racism. Concurrently, cancer has painfully impacted many lives of those reading this. We have made great strides in race relations but with more remaining. Many have survived cancer and indeed are flourishing. Others have succumbed to its vicious reality.
I lost my sister to ovarian cancer 17 years ago, leaving four children and never enjoying her future grandchildren. I have friends of color who tell me they still experience measures of racism.
And I found myself in a wheelchair after 52 years of normalcy. When I came to consciousness in the ICU, I immediately thought, “Now what?”
Most of us have had to navigate tragedy in our lives: a painful divorce, a lost job, a deep betrayal. Moments in time, specific events, and seasons can mark us for the remainder of our lives.
So how do we deal with these experiences? Let me share from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians the path I’ve chosen:
◼ God meets us in our pain with grace. He is not taken by surprise but already has a healing salve for the wound. Growing up, I was quite active. Regardless of what my boo-boo was, Mom had medicine in the cabinet for it. No matter what we go through, we can have confidence that God has a way to meet us.
◼ Other people have faced the same pain we have. One of the greatest deceptions is to convince us that “no one understands.” No doubt, in the middle of pain, one can feel very alone. In due time, God often brings us to those with a shared vocabulary around our common wound.
◼ We have the opportunity to be conduits of God’s grace. Paul told the Corinthians to take the comfort they were given during difficulty and offer it to others. A community of folk has experienced the same pain we have, a collection of individuals who have navigated their darkness and tragedy. We have the opportunity to help.
One of the most significant ways I’ve discovered to “take back my life” is to, in fact, lay it down for others. Those days I want to wallow in my pain and the “what ifs” and “back befores,” one of the greatest antibiotics to my heart and mind is to offer comfort and empathy to those similarly impacted. Maybe we all could develop a prayer something like this: “Help me, Father, to be a conduit of Your grace as You turn our tragedy to treasure, our pain to purpose, our wounds to wisdom.”
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.