Webster’s defines the word solace as “comfort in grief.” I’m so glad that my God offers solace in my sorrow.

I recently received several packages from a distant relative. They contained the last known possessions that had belonged to my mother, who passed away in 2014.

My mother and I were not speaking at the time of her death. I was in the throes of heroin addiction and on the streets. I didn’t even know she had died until 2018, almost a year after I was released from prison.

I cannot tell you the burden of anguish, grief, shame, and guilt I have carried regarding my mom’s passing and our estranged relationship. I regret that I did not get to say goodbye or ask for forgiveness for all the things I’d put her through.

My mother didn’t get to see the woman I am becoming since I’ve surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and am following Him. She didn’t see how God has restored my relationship with my children, freed me from a 30-year struggle with drug addiction, and healed my shame of childhood sexual trauma. Nor did she meet the amazing man of God that the Lord brought into my life. Oh, how I wish she could have been here to help plan my recent wedding.

But God, during one of my many tearful, grieving times of prayer and repentance before Him, led me to a Scripture that has spoken healing to my heart. Second Corinthians 1:3–4 says, ”All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others” (NLT).

I need God’s mercy and His comfort daily. I know there is nothing I can do to change the past, but at times, I still find myself on my knees in all-consuming sorrow. I miss my mom terribly. There is space in my life that only she can fill—but that’s all the more reason I need the Lord. This burden is too heavy to carry alone.

God’s Spirit continually teaches me through His Word how important it is to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and to lift the shield of faith over my heart and mind. Otherwise, the enemy would find vulnerable  angles from which to attack. It’s a constant job to guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23), but as I do, God comforts me. He helps me work through the grieving process.

So far, I’ve only managed to open one of those boxes from my mother. It’s no coincidence that this box held my mother’s Bible. God used it to bring me peace as I realized that I will see my mother again; she was a believer in Jesus.

Inside the Bible, I found more comfort when I discovered pictures of me at various ages. My mother had used them to mark her place in specific chapters. Each photo reminded me that I was on her mind and in her prayers daily.

My mom knew how trapped I was  in darkness and that only the strength of the Lord could save me. Only He could heal my brokenness and provide the courage and strength I needed to overcome the past. All her love could not do this for me.

God also comforted me with the place her Bible first opened to. It was Judges 6, the story of Gideon. I was reminded how God invites those who feel weak and worthless to leave their places of hiding, fear, and obscurity, and step into new areas where He can use them for great purposes.

My eyes were especially drawn to verse 12: ”When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” I rested in the truth that God’s presence is with me, and He will help me win every battle. I am not alone, nor am I weak—I am a mighty warrior.

The God of comfort knew exactly the solace I needed to move ahead despite my past mistakes and regrets. He knows what you need too. Just ask.