February 6, 2017

Comfort in Trials

Christians often say to one another that we do not know how others make it through the trials of life without the comfort of God that we experience as His children. I became a Christian as an adult, so I can remember my emotional state in terrible circumstances before I knew Jesus. I was devastated.

Terrible circumstances still happen, but now I also feel the arms of God holding me in tender compassion. He knows how to comfort and encourage His people.

This morning’s devotional is about God’s comfort. First, it tells me to comfort others using this Old Testament passage . . .

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins . . . Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:1–11)

Yesterday we received threatening news. I’m wondering, How can I comfort others when I am the one who feels devastated? And the Lord put this New Testament passage into my thoughts . . .

“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 affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)

This read like a promise; God knows my need. He will comfort me in this affliction so I can comfort others who also need it. Other passages offer some options for receiving and giving comfort . . .

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” (Isaiah 52:7)

I’m comforted by remembering the good news: Jesus saves and God is in charge. These two brief statements are like throwing out an anchor in a storm. God reassures me with both His plans and His power. He is sovereign, and He is able to save. He promised a future and a hope and then sent Jesus to fulfill it for those in great need . . .

“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to (Jesus). He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:17–21)

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told the disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). Some translations say “Comforter” instead of “Helper” for that role is the work of the Holy Spirit. He applies the promises of God to a troubled heart and gives assurance of His care. He says . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Jesus, my heart is heavy. I have no idea what comes next. I’m praying for grace and wisdom in this perplexing and threatening situation, and also now for the ability to comfort those who need it more than I do. 

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