Listen to song – God of all Comfort
It was a Sunday morning, almost 30 years ago, when my life changed dramatically. My beloved Dad suffered a heart attack at home, and while I watched helplessly on, my mum out calling the ambulance, he breathed his last. That traumatic time still impacts me today, but so does the comfort and grace of God that I and my family received at that time. I look back and say that God made it “the least worst it had to be”. There were many special moments we’d enjoyed with Dad in the lead up, even though we had no idea we were going to suddenly lose him. And I’ll never forget, the morning after that terrible day, opening our daily bible reading to hear
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Cor 1)
This verse, perhaps more than any other, has been proved true over and over in my life. The phrases are so precious to me, because they are life deep. God of all comfort, Father of compassion – what amazing relief to our souls to know these particular names of God. And, just like with the reservoir idea, once again we have that principle of God filling us, comforting us, caring for us – which then becomes the source of all that we share with others.
Can you think of any times in your life where you yourself have received the comfort of God? What forms did God’s comfort take, even in the midst of the tragic circumstance (or maybe before or after it occured)? On the other hand, have there been times when you have felt completely bereft – could you perhaps ask God now to show you how He was present with you in that terrible time?
The Bible makes clear that this life of ours will not be immune from suffering, in fact later in that same chapter, Paul describes his own suffering – “great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself”. In the light of all this, our worldview itself is a comfort – because it explains that though God’s kingdom is here, alive and active, for now it is in the midst of a dark, broken and at times evil world. We wait for the Lord’s return, for wrong to be made right, for every tear to be wiped away – but while we wait, He is with us – He is Emmanuel! Born into a dirty stable, under a local murderous regime, backed by a world-dominating power – having to flee as a baby refugee, as an adult harried by corrupt leaders and eventually murdered after a desecration of justice. That’s one side of the story.
But at the same time, throughout Jesus’ life, and in His resurrection, we see the Kingdom of God alive, pulsing with goodness and grace, bringing light to the darkness, compassion to the needy, healing and comfort to all who looked to Him. And of course, the final explosive turn around as his broken dead body comes back to glorious life and death itself begins to ‘work backwards’! This is the tension we live in the midst of.
Jesus, please give us the grace and the courage to look to you, and to open our hearts to you so that we may receive more of you. Help us to know that you are here with us, even in the midst of the mess.