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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
It was Sunday afternoon, and the air was warm.
Our church was quickly whittling away Labor Day weekend together at Riverside State Park.
Someone mentioned visiting the swimming hole down by Bowl and Pitcher, and many quickly obliged.
Kids donned swimsuits, parents collected towels, and our caravan headed slightly west.
As we parked, the tall basalt stood over us and cooled the air ever so slightly. We departed the paved trails and headed down the sandy hillside towards the water, kids cheered as the Spokane River came into sight.
We quickly populated the only picnic table, and the kids put on their floatation devices. We waded ever so shallow into the water.
The cold water was chilling. My toes insisted on reminding me they were still connected to my feet, which in turn were connected to my legs, which in turn were connected to my body.
As I followed the suit of others who were fully committed to the idea of swimming, my mind was cleared.
There wasn’t much that could shake my thoughts from centering on escaping the cold water. As my breath fled my lungs, my mind focused intently on the cold. Yes, the initial feeling was pain, and it was immediately followed by more pain.
As time passed, my mind found the water relaxing. My muscles and joints felt suddenly more alive and loose then before fully committing.
I breathed deeply. I closed my eyes. The practice followed on the several times I had taken the same opportunity to do several times throughout this family filled weekend.
The wonder of the weekend engulfed me.
There in a beautiful corner of the Inland region where a church family shared in the comfort of one another’s company, shared in several potlucks across the four days we were there, shared in the duties of raising children, shared in the turning of rocks with insects under them, shared in the wonder of coyotes howling in the night, shared in the warmth of a fire, and overall shared in the comfort family brings.
It seems very patronizing to call any aspect of my life afflicted, especially in the context of our last few month’s worth of news cycles. Yet, my life up to this point has had its afflictions, even if lesser than my fellow brothers and sisters. Through that affliction, I have been uniquely equipped to share the comfort I have received. Our words and actions are called to be similar to the cold water I found myself submerged in: a reprieve from the heat and a chance to revive.
On this side of Labor Day, my work week has quickly ramped up much the same as yours probably has, however, comforting friendships, beautiful days spent outside, yard games being played in the shade of ponderosas, and the inquisitive minds of children will sustain weeks onward.
The beauty of our walk with God is not that it is alone, that whether in affliction or regularity, we operate as cold restorative water to each other’s souls.
Truly, the love of God is seen in the comfort of a family made of many families, many pigments of skin, many smiles, many wrinkles, many laughs, many sharing a swim and keeping a watchful eye on children swimming.
May God bless the comfort you bring to someone today.