After receiving stitches for my dog bite, the nurse gave me special footwear. The ugly black shoe extended past my toes and was built to fit either foot. A thick flat base prevented me from rolling my foot and opening the stitches. The top opened with two sets of Velcro to ease pressure on the wound and allow me to get in and out of the shoe. It wasn’t as clunky as the medical boots, but still marked me as the walking wounded.
Upon returning to work, I was amazed at how many people stopped to empathize. At first, I thought the shoe was giving me away. Then I realized my slug’s pace was another clue. Apparently, many people had experienced foot or leg problems and remembered their trials. Once I chatted with three strangers in a hallway, all of us with leg issues. We shared our struggles with mobility and encouraged each other.
Their comforting words kept me going. Because they were in the same predicament, they knew my difficulties. If they could do it, so could I.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV says, “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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
God comforts us in our hard times. Yet, this verse points out an interesting reason as to why He comforts us. So that when others are troubled, we can extend to them the same comfort we received from the Lord. We aren’t to hoard our comfort, but empathize with others and seek to help them. Even the areas where we feel entitled to be selfish are really to point the glory back to God.
In high school, I dropped a moving ramp on my other foot and tore the tendon to my big toe. The doctor gave me emergency foot surgery that day, and I later had to go under anesthesia at the hospital for them to fix it. I started high school on crutches, enduring raw skin under my arms and gaining uneven leg muscles. Ever afterwards I tried to hold doors for people on crutches and extend empathy when possible. It helps to have a recent reminder to care for others.
God knows that down the road, someone will need our help. If we have walked a similar path ourselves and survived, we are better equipped to encourage them. Those people can gain strength to continue because they know others have gone before them. God doesn’t waste our hurt, but transforms it into something marvelous for His glory.
While I still find the black shoe ugly, I know the empathy I’ve gained from wearing it will make me more beautiful inside. And with large scars now on both feet, I may never win any beauty contests. However, I pray for beautiful feet that will carry the gospel and love of Christ wherever He leads me.
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.