After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the cities along the Louisiana coastline, a Christian church wanted to bring comfort to the people living there. The parishioners saw homes lost to flooding and people with little food or clean water, the clothes on their backs muddied, reeking, and molded from the constant humidity. The church decided to pack up a big-rig filled with supplies, and they drove it all night to get to the neighborhood most in need.
When the weary Louisianians saw the truck, they gathered around, relieved that supplies had finally come. “Thanks be to God!” they cried, waiting to receive food, water, and dry clothes and shoes.
But their faces fell when the doors of the truck opened. There, stacked high, were boxes and boxes of brand new Bibles, donated by the community that had longed to give comfort to their suffering sisters and brothers.
Whether or not this really happened, like all stories, it’s true, because it reminds us that comfort is not defined by the one who gives it but by those who long for it. Bread is comfort for the starving; water is comfort for the parched; presence is comfort for the lonely. When God asks us to give comfort to his people, how will we decide what is truly needed?