Stephen Colbert, one of TV's biggest stars and the soon-to-be host of The Late Show next month, recently opened up about the tragedy that defined his childhood, and the faith that gave him the strength to find meaning in the pain.
Growing up, Steven Colbert, 51, enjoyed a normal, happy childhood with his ten older siblings in Charleston, South Carolina. But when he was 10 years old, the family was dealt a devastating blow.
In 1974, Colbert’s father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash, leaving the family heartbroken. Colbert was the only child left at home at the time and had only his mother to turn to for comfort. That’s when, he says, she encouraged him to develop a relationship with God—only He would reveal the purpose of such suffering.
“She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the Cross and the example of sacrifice that He gave us," Colbert said. "What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain—it’s that the pain is actually a gift."
Colbert expresses this thankfulness by spreading joy to those around him, whether that's by making millions laugh on The Colbert Report or by teaching Communion classes at the church he attends. Whatever the situation, Colbert uses his gift of making people laugh as a way to spread Christ's love.
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God and that’s how I can mix faith with what I do for a living,” he said. “That’s my context for my existence: we’re here to know God, love God, serve God, that we might be happy with each other in this world and with Him in the next."