Raise your hand if you have ever responded to the question ‘How are you?’ this way?
Now put it down because you’re reading a blog by yourself and no one else can see your hand. No one really raised their hand, I know.
I think we always assume that most people expect nothing more than “I’m good,” and we expect a similar response on the occasion we ask it. But what if we asked to really know how people are? What if someone asks you this question and they already know you’re anything but good?
It may not carry much worth from this page, but I want you to hear this:
It’s OK to not be OK.
Our God is the ultimate comforter. Our God is the ultimate healer. But acting like we don’t need healing or comfort doesn’t cure our hurt, pain, or sorrow.
God allows and instructs believers to care for those who hurt and face affliction. How are we able to do so in the midst of our own affliction? Take in these words:
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
We can care for and comfort those battered by hurt, pain, and sorrow because we have been cared for and comforted in the face of hurt, pain, and sorrow by the Almighty God. Vulnerability allows us to truly rely on God. If I’m okay all the time I don’t ever need any help. Because I’m not okay I can be comforted. Because I’m broken I can be mended. Because I’m in need I can be cared for.
It’s easy to disguise pain with a smile, laugh, or well-timed joke. I know because I’m good at it.
I’ve experienced this as recently as a couple of days ago. I answered that question “How are you?” so many times, with the same response. “I’m good.” “I’m alright.” “I’m okay.” Question after question. I responded, gave a quick smile, and sometimes even countered by asking that same very question to them.
All of this happened after the death of my grandmother. My Mimi. This is a pain and confusion I wasn’t expecting, especially so soon. This is as experience I share with a fellow writer and friend which you can read about here. I handled the news as I do. I put on my weekday face, went to work, visited family, and lived like I was ‘good.’ The hurt I felt, though, was something I hadn’t in a long time. She was in heaven. She was in the presence of Jesus. She was in the dwelling place of the almighty God. Why did I hurt? I shouldn’t, should I?
Wrong. Absolutely, completely wrong. I hurt. My family hurt. Friends hurt. People I didn’t even know hurt. A wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend was gone. But. I found comfort. I found comfort in the love of so many. I found comfort in those who had this same experience. I found comfort in the pounds of food so many served us (and I mean pounds). I found comfort in my Poppy’s smile and sarcastic humor. I found comfort in the words of Amazing Grace. I found comfort in the words of our Creator.
Christ promises us rest. His immeasurable love covers us. His comfort is unmatched. His care is unequal.
We are all called to care for those who hurt. We care for family. We care for our neighbors. We care for foreigners. We care for widows. We care for orphans. We are instructed to bring comfort to those who are in desperate need.
We are called to care for others because we can be cared for. We can hurt. We can weep. We can feel pain. We can feel lost and empty. And we can always be cared for. Our Comforter is always near.
When loved ones are truly interested in the condition of our heart, soul, or mind we can be honest. When we aren’t ‘okay’, we can freely run into the comforting arms of the Father and fellow believers.
So I ask, “How are you?”
I encourage you to listen to this song, written by a group of people who love Jesus and can play instruments and sing.