Saturday, January 20, 2018

The God of All Comfort

Henry David Thoreau, an 19th century American essayist, poet, philosopher, and historian once wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

Looking around at the present political, economic, and spiritual landscape, I am convinced that that quiet desperation is becoming one of anxious desperation, worry, doubt, and discouragement as the future becomes more uncertain for those who don’t know God.

Most of the time man can keep his anxiety in check through various means and vices that calm his spirit until he can fall asleep at night. He wants to be in his comfort zone, sitting in a comfortable chair, eating comfort food, with a comforter across his lap. Feeling comforted. But he resigns himself to a life of quiet desperation seeking to fill the God-shaped hole in his heart with anything but.

What about the people of God? As God continues to withdraw his hand of blessing, we will see mankind become more and more desperate. When a man becomes desperate, he feels justified in using more desperate measures to get what he needs. Desperate times, desperate measures.
Adult Baby Pacifier

When we see desperation all around us, will we succumb to the chaos or will we allow ourselves to be comforted by the God of all comfort? Will we keep our heads when all about us are losing theirs and ultimately blaming it on us? [Rudyard Kipling: “If”]

God has told us that he loves us, so much so that he sent Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. God told us he would never leave us nor forsake us. God told us that though thousands may fall at our side, not a hair of our head would be harmed, and many other exceeding great and precious promises.

Do you believe Him? Do you believe God? Not do you believe in God, but do you believe Him? Do you believe what He says? Do you trust Him? Is he trustworthy?

Of course, he is trustworthy. The difficulty we have comes when circumstances arise in our lives that frustrate us or cause us to be anxious, confused, and discouraged. Do we believe him then? Do we trust him then? Is he still trustworthy then?

What changed during those tough times? God? When we become anxious about our lives, is it God who has changed, that causes us to be anxious? Or is it us?

We know God cannot lie and is the same today, yesterday and forever. So, it must be us, our attitudes, our trust in him that wavers. When everything seems to be going our way, it’s easy to see God’s hand in it. We feel blessed. We feel that God is looking out for us. We feel that we are in his good graces.

But when the going gets tough and we’re being tested and tried by fire, how about then? Do we question whether God is with us then? Do we feel like maybe he has left us then? Do we feel forsaken? Like the non-believer, do we begin to feel anxious when the future becomes uncertain?

When God is with us, we feel comforted just knowing he’s there. But when things don’t go our way, if we’re not firmly grounded in our beliefs, knowing what we know and knowing that we know it, we can panic just like a small child.

Have a you ever watched a small child playing on the playground? They are just so precious and full of joy and happiness playing as they do. But have you ever noticed that every so often they’ll glance up to see if Mommy or Daddy is still there? They may even call out them, “Watch me!”. They need that extra reassurance that Mommy or Daddy is looking, that they are interested in what they are doing, that they care. But most of the time when they look up, they just want to know that Mommy or Daddy is still there. Once they see them, they go back to whatever it was that they were doing.

If they ever look up and Mommy or Daddy is not where they’re supposed to be, you can see panic set in. Where are they?! What happened to them?! And the child suddenly feels vulnerable, and alone, and afraid.

We are God’s children and he is our Father. Like a child, we feel comforted by God’s presence. And like a child, we feel anxious when we look up and don’t see Him. I don’t care if you’re 22 years old or if you’re 62 years old, you want to know God is still there when you look up from whatever it is you’re doing. We want to feel his presence in our lives.

Especially when things seem to be going all wrong, we look up to see if God is there. If we don’t see Him right away, if we don’t see his hand in it, panic sets in. Where is He?! What happened to Him?! Why is He allowing this to happen?! What did I do?! We feel vulnerable, and alone, and afraid.

At such times, we need that extra reassurance. We want to know that God sees what’s going on, what’s happening in our lives. And just like that little child looking to his earthly father to fix it, we want to know that our heavenly Father will make everything okay.

We are of the family of God and as our Father, God wants to provide for us. He cares for us. He loves us. Rest assured. He is there. It is his good pleasure to provide for us, even to give us the Kingdom. (Luk 12:32) Whether we feel His presence or not, God is there.

There are four sources of comfort we can draw on according to the Bible –
  1. Comfort from the Scriptures
  2. Comfort Ourselves
  3. Comfort Each Other
  4. Comfort from God

Comfort from the Scriptures

 Is what’s written in the Bible true because it’s written in the Bible or did God inspire it to be written in the Bible because it’s true? The words in the Bible are true because they are grounded in the fundamental laws of God that He used to create the universe and all things. The Bible records that truth for us so that we can know it and believe it.

It is believing the thing that is written in the Bible, not what we feel about it, that matters. Knowing is believing the thing that is written. We are to know what we know and know that we know it. Not know what we feel and know that we feel it.

When I read in the Bible that God is love, I am to believe it, just because “it is written”, regardless of whether I have had any inward feeling that it is true; and when the Bible says that He cares for us as He cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and that the very hairs of our head are all numbered, I am to believe it, just because it is written, no matter what my feelings are about it.

The Evil One loves to play on our emotions. The more he can get us to trust our feelings the easier we are to manipulate.
“Trust your heart,” he says. (However see Jer 17:9)
“Trust your gut,” he says. (However see Php 3:19)
God says, “Believe me.” (See Joh 14:1)

In several places we’re told “according to your faith” be it unto you and “your faith has made you whole”, your belief. Not belief as if it was a magic amulet or magic charm, but belief in Christ, in who he was, the very Son of God.

In Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, he couldn’t do many miracles because they didn’t have faith, they didn’t believe. It doesn’t say because they just weren’t feeling it. It was because of their unbelief. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? The kid we used to see running around here?” They didn’t believe who Jesus was. Their feelings had nothing to do with it.

If I were to drop this Bible it’s going to fall. It doesn’t matter how you feel about the Holy Word of God being treated in such fashion. It doesn’t matter what you feel about what would happen to those beautiful flowers. What matters is fact. The Law of Gravity is fact and just as surely as gravity is fact so is faith. How we feel about it has nothing to do with it.

Why were the original older generation of Israelites forbidden to enter the promised land?

Heb 3:7-19 KJV  Wherefore (as the Holy Spirit saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,  (8)  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:  (9)  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.  (10)  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.  (11)  So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)  (12)  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  (13)  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  (14)  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  (15)  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.  (16)  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.  (17)  But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?  (18)  And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  (19)  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The older ones had lived long enough to realize there was evil in the world. They had experienced it firsthand. They had become cynical, skeptical, unbelieving. They trusted in their feelings, their evil heart of unbelief instead of taking God at his word.

Psa 78:19-22 KJV  Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?  (20)  Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?  (21)  Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel;  (22)  Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:

We shake our heads at the Israelites behavior. We can’t believe they could be like that! I mean, they saw all the miracles God did to get them released from captivity in Egypt. They had a pillar of fire to guide them by night. They had a pillar of a cloud to cover them and protect them from the blistering sun and lead them by day. They had manna to eat, they had water that miraculously sprung from a rock. They had quail to eat to the full. Their clothing didn’t wear out for 40 years. Yet they still complained and murmured against God. We can hardly believe they could have been so self-centered and unbelieving!

Yet, had we been in their shoes, I venture to say we may have allowed our feelings to overwhelm us. Imagine walking through the desert every day. Eating manna every day. Nothing to entertain you but instead the constant drudgery of putting one foot in front of the other every day. Set up the tents. Take down the tents. Cook the manna. Boil the manna. Fry the manna. Bake the manna. Sautee the manna. Grill the manna. Manna, manna, manna. Rest on the Sabbath. Whew! Do it all again next week. For forty years!

Sounds like our jobs, doesn’t it? For forty years. For an entire career. Meanwhile, they dealt with all the family issues, the arguments with each other, the jealousy, the disagreements, the sickness, the deaths, the discomforts, the drama of life. Starting to sound familiar?

We view their plight in the wilderness with head knowledge and think “how could they NOT trust in God”, but had we been there, we too might have gotten emotionally caught up. Our feelings might have overtaken our reason and caused us to lose heart and lose sight of the blessings.

Take comfort in the scriptures. Trust God. Take God at His word. Believe what He tells us in the Holy Scriptures. How we’re feeling at the time doesn’t matter. Be of good cheer. 

God said it. We believe it. That settles it.

Comfort Ourselves

Here’s a story of a time when David's wives and children were taken captive and his men were ready to stone him.

1Sa 30:1-6 KJV  And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;  (2)  And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.  (3)  So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.  (4)  Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.  (5)  And David's two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.  (6)  And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

How does David encourage himself?

(Psa 42:5 KJV)  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. [his face, his watchful eye over me]
(Psa 42:11 KJV)  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. [David’s face, his joy]
(Psa 43:5 KJV)  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. [David’s face, his joy]
What does David do amidst his discomfort and discouragement? He praises God and places his hope in Him! Praises his watchful eye and the joy he brings!

Psa 119:52 KJV  I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.
Psa 94:19 KJV  In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

When we feel that God does not hear us or has cast us off, remember the good things He has done. Praise Him for who he is, for watching over us, and for all he has done.

Comfort Each Other

2Co 1:2-4 KJV  Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  (3)  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  (4)  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God is the source of all our comfort. As we are comforted, so do we comfort others. As God has shown us how, we also bring comfort to others.

Isa 35:4 NASB  Say to those with anxious heart, "Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you."

There is comfort in knowing our Deliverer is coming!

2Co 7:4-7 KJV  Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.  (5)  For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.  (6)  Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;  (7)  And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.

Often when we’re in the middle of a mess, just having a friend come and be with us lifts our spirits. And even more so if he has good news that others on our side are faring well, thinking of us, praying for us.

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

1Th 3:6-8 NASB  But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,  (7)  for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;  (8)  for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

Think not only of yourself but also of how others must feel. Be an encourager. Visit with those who are discouraged. Bring a kind word of comfort. Comfort each other.

Comfort from God

2Co 1:2-4 KJV  Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  (3)  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  (4)  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God has told us that he would care for us, that we should take no thought for tomorrow. We are told to behold the lilies of the field and the fowls of the air and he assures us that we are of much more value than they and that if he cares for them, he will much more care for us.

To think that the sovereign Ruler and Creator of the universe who can control everything and foresee everything and can manage everything in the very best possible way would care for us is an awesome concept for the human mind to grasp. How great a comfort this must be!

One would think this would be enough to calm our anxious care in every circumstance. And yet how few people are really comforted by it. Why is this? Simply and only because they do not believe it. They are waiting to have an inward feeling that His words are true, before they will believe them.

They wish they could believe them, but they do not think they can be true in their own special case, unless they can have an inward feeling that they are; and since they have no such inward feeling, they do not believe His words apply to them; and consequently, they do not in the least expect Him actually to care for their affairs at all.

It is pure and simple unbelief that is at the bottom of all our lack of comfort, and absolutely nothing else. God comforts us on every side, but we simply do not believe His words of comfort. We refuse to be comforted.

If we want to be comforted, we must make up our minds to believe every single solitary word of comfort God has ever spoken; and we must refuse
utterly to listen to any words of discomfort spoken by our own hearts, or by our circumstances.

We must believe it. We must say to ourselves, “God says it, and it is true, and I am going to believe it, no matter how things look.”

Comfort must follow faith. We must believe it, then we can be comforted.

God says “believe” and THEN you can “feel”. We want to “feel” it and then we can “believe”. We recognize this in our earthly matters and are never so foolish as to expect to feel we have anything until we first believe that it is in our possession.

For example, I could not possibly feel glad that I had a fortune in the bank, unless I knew that it was really there. We believe it because we know it. But in spiritual things we reverse God’s order, and refuse to believe that we possess anything until we first feel as if we had it. If we will but believe God’s words of comfort, then we will feel it but we doubt the comfort of God’s words until we feel it in our own hearts. This approach is backwards. We must believe it, then we can feel it.

Jesus told us he is the Good Shepherd. He gives his life for the sheep. His sheep know him. We are his sheep and we follow him whithersoever he goeth. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The Shepherd provides for us. He knows what’s best for us. He shall supply all our need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Php 4:19)

He protects us. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

He leads us beside the still waters.

Mat 8:23-27 KJV  And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.  (24)  And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.  (25)  And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.  (26)  And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  (27)  But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

We have the storms of life all around us. If you noticed, Jesus was asleep. He wasn’t worried or anxious. The others were anxious. Why? Jesus told them it was because of a lack of faith, belief in Him.

It is not necessary for the turmoil around us to cease in order for us to be comforted. God doesn’t always have to calm the storm. Sometimes He calms His child. If we are well grounded in the truth of God, if we truly believe, we can be in a state of calm and comfort all the day long despite what may be going on around us. Not because of anything we have done. Not because of who we are but because of who God is.

Our faith and our trust, properly placed, is in God. Just like the little child who is in a state of peace and calm because his father is near, so we can be in a state of peace and calm because we know our heavenly Father is near.

Before his departure, Jesus said he would send the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, to be with us in his absence to teach us, to help us, to guide us, to comfort us. Are we comforted by the Holy Spirit? Do we let the Holy Spirit comfort us?

Often, we pray that God would intervene on our behalf. We ask him to ease a burden or to take it from us. We ask him to handle our problem for us. We lay it all at His feet. And then, rather than being comforted by it, by handing it off to our heavenly Father and trusting in him, having the faith and belief that he will handle it for us, we take it back and continue to worry about it anyway. Why? Why would we do that?

How many of us who are fathers or mothers would gladly help our child out of a bind? Especially if they ask for our help? We don’t expect our children to do our part. Their part is to trust and obey, and be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our part is to provide for their needs in accordance with what’s in their best interest. How many of us would be crushed if we found out our child didn’t trust us to provide for them? How devastated would be to find out our child didn’t have faith in us to look out for their every need?

Our heavenly Father is the same way. How do you think he feels when we don’t trust the promises he has made to provide our every need and to watch over us? He wants to take care of us and to do things for us.  Let him. But we do have to wait on his perfect timing. It’s not all about us. There are other considerations.

We must give God’s Holy Spirit time to work. There is a very complex multitude of circumstances that God must consider and work out to the good of all who love God and are the called according to his purpose. (Rom 8:28) God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. He has a lot of moving parts he has to work with.

What we’re asking may be dependent on someone else responding to God’s instruction before he can put the next piece in place. Just as we don’t all respond immediately as we should. Sometimes it takes time. Remember when Daniel’s prayer was heard but it took 21 days for the angel of the Lord to get to him because he was delayed by the prince of Persia?

Give it time. Keep praying but give it time. Wait I say on the Lord.

He wants to help us, his children, not because we deserve it or have earned it. It’s not because of what kind of person we are but because of what kind of Father God is.

Do we take him at his word? Do we wait on his perfect timing? How long do we wait?

Abraham, the father of the faithful waited 10 years from the time God told him he would have a son in Genesis 12:4 until he took matters into his own hands in Genesis 16:4. It was 25 years total until Isaac was born in Gen 21:5. Would we be that faithful?

God said He would comfort us. Believe him.

Rom 8:28 KJV  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

That is not to say that what WE think are "good things" are the same as what God thinks are the "good things" that are best for us. We must rest in the fact that having asked, the "things" we receive are good whether what we receive looks like it or not. However things may look, we always know that God must give the best because He is God and could do no other.
 2Co 9:8 KJV  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

All.  Always.  Every.

Remember there are four sources of comfort we can draw on according to the Bible –

  1. Comfort from the Scriptures – Believe what God inspired to be written there. Don’t trust your feelings and emotions.
  2. Comfort Ourselves – Praise God and remember all the times He has been faithful. Be thankful that He watches over us. He is the source of our joy and all good things.
  3. Comfort Each Other – We’re in this together. We don’t have to go it alone. Look out for one another. 
  4. Comfort from God – The God of ALL comfort. Believe what he says. Trust him for He is trustworthy. Despite whatever is going on around us, even when you can’t see him, remember always, God is there.

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of all comfort, the God of love and peace shall be with you. (2Co 13:11)


Much of what I spoke about today was drawn from this book –

The God of All Comfort by Hannah Whitall Smith

It’s one of my very favorites. I highly recommend you get a copy. The book is out of print but used copies are readily available from Amazon for about $6.00 or $7.00 including shipping. The Kindle version is 99 cents.

It is also available online in soft copy for FREE DOWNLOAD

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Who Am I

My photo
I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

Get the Bible for your computer FREE!

Share Walk In Truth

Bookmark and Share

Tweets of Truth

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Walk in Truth