“Comfort, give comfort to my people,” says your God. (Isaiah 40:1)
We talk about people. We wonder about people. We judge people, others and ourselves. Sometimes we are arrogant enough to think we’re better than “those people.” But do we comfort people? Do we put aside everything we think we know about them, the world, and our selves in order to simply be an alert, fully engaged presence?
As I sit here writing this my dog is laying at my feet. When I get up out of the chair she’ll get up off her beanbag and follow. By then it will be light enough for our predawn walk, a ritual that brings comfort to both of us. No doubt she is very alert and fully present right now. I like that a lot. Definitely can feel those endorphins coursing through my being.
We, the body of Christ are called by God to bring comfort to each other. You’d be surprised how much healthier and less symptomatic we would be if we simply acted like my faithful dog. Do you want to reduce the risk for mental conditions? Do you want to help someone not feel his or her symptoms as acutely? Do you want to help your own level of discomfort? Then be a fully engaged presence for those around you, and yes, yourself too. Just be there. You don’t have to do anything special except be patient and non-judgmental.
These days we have research. The studies on the effects of social support and mental illness are plentiful. Guess what they all say?
Comfort, give comfort to my people!