What if the remedy doesn't work? I heard about a farmer who had some chickens that were all dying. He called the agricultural agent and said, "I had 600 chickens and now I'm down to 300. They are dying. What do I do?" The agent said, "You need to give them some penicillin." Then he told the farmer how much penicillin he needed. A few days later he called back and told the agent he was down to 150 chickens. "They are dying quickly. I need some more advice." The agent said, "Give them some castor oil twice a day. That ought to help." The farmer called back and said he was down to fifty chickens. The agent said, "This is what you do: give them aspirin twice a day." Two days later he told the agent all the chickens were dead. There was silence on the line. Then the agent said, "That's a shame. I have a lot more remedies to try."
We want to keep trying remedies, but some things can't be fixed. It was children's day at church, and a girl got one of those big blue helium balloons. All of the sudden, it went POP! The big balloon was nothing but a wet rubber blob. Her face turned to gloom and then, as if something struck her, she picked up the glob of blue rubber and started cheerfully hopping and skipping over to her daddy. Holding it out to him, she said, "Here. Fix it."
What do you do when you can't fix it? You have to move from compassion to comfort. I believe there is a difference between compassion and comfort. Comfort is putting compassion into action. A little girl took first aid training. A few years later she burst into the house and said, "Mother, I saw a terrible accident and I used my first aid training." Mother asked what she did. She said, "When I saw the blood, I sat down and put my head between my knees so I wouldn't pass out." Well, that wasn't very comforting. Compassion leads to comfort. Compassion leads to taking an initiative. I have heard that, because of his deafness, Beethoven found conversation difficult. When he heard of the death of a friend's son, overcome with grief, he hurried to the house. He had no words of comfort to offer, but he saw a piano in the room. For the next half-hour he played the piano, pouring out his emotions in the most eloquent way he could. When he finished playing, he left. The friend later remarked that no one else's visit had meant so much. Beethoven did what he could.
A little boy was suddenly aware of the puddle between his feet and the front of his pants was all wet. How could it have happened? Embarrassed, he wanted to die. The guys will never let him forget it; the girls won't ever speak to him again. "Please, dear God," he prayed. "I'm in big trouble here. I need help now." Suddenly, a classmate named Suzie loses a grip on the goldfish bowl she is carrying. It tips over, right in the boy's lap. "Thank you, dear God." He silently rejoiced. He pretends to be angry with little Suzie, and now she becomes the center of classroom scorn. He is rushed to the office for a pair of dry gym shorts. After school, the two are waiting for the bus. Suzie is standing off by herself, but he goes up to her and whispers, "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" and Suzie whispers back, "I wet my pants once, too."
Comfort is not arguing the facts but acknowledging the feeling. Faith is not about an answer, it is about God. Faith is assurance that God loves you. Comfort is being honest enough to say, "I don't understand it either, but I know God loves you." Comfort is doing what you can. Comfort is giving part of your heart instead of a piece of your mind. Comfort cares even when there appears to be no cure.
So if you see me in trouble, help me. Throw a bowl of water on me. While you're at it, throw some on yourself. It won't be comfortable for you, but it will be a comfort.