Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Struggle to Find Comfort

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:19.


Refusing Comfort
“Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and he said, ‘For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.’ Thus his father wept for Him.” Genesis 37: 34-35
"Refusing comfort" refers to the state in which the loss or pain is so great and final that there seems to be absolutely nothing that could possibly heal the hurt, relieve the pain, or replace the loss. Jacob found himself in this condition as he experienced heart-wrenching grief over the loss of his son Joseph. No one was able to comfort him. No words could relieve or console him.

Genuine and Not Superficial
To a person in such grief the idea of comfort often seems like an empty and futile promise. Consolation is viewed much like the consolation prize which is usually given to the losers of a contest. The "consolation game" is a contest for those who have lost early in the tournament. Likewise, a person in the intensity of his pain often tends to view attempts at comfort as being merely the "consolation game" or the “consolation prize,” a substitute for the real thing, a shallow and superficial attempt to make him feel better,

This, however, is not what the Bible means by “comfort.” God's comfort is real and genuine, not imaginary or illusory." It is supernatural and comes from and with God Himself. There is a depth of reality and glory and a supernatural quality in genuine comfort which makes it substantial. It represents real healing rather than a mere superficial "second prize."

In God Himself
Job could find no comfort in words, rationalizations, or in sweet thoughts from friends. He, like Jacob, found that there are times when the anguish, the loss, the disappointment, and the hurt are so great that nothing will comfort because nothing can change what has happened. He also discovered that it is difficult to find comfort in the midst of so many unanswered questions, when there is suffering without explanation and understanding. The great question “Why?” sometimes stands between us and our comfort.

In these times our comfort, relief, and hope is in God Himself, not in ideas, words, or in anything that could be said. Our comfort comes only in God, in the revelation of His presence, in seeing Him and His eternal perspective. He comes to us Himself and brings a comfort that is supernatural and beyond comprehension. It is interesting to note that Job, with the confusion and questions that must have been swirling around in his head, posed none of them to God during the Divine visitation. Seeing the Lord brought a supernatural revelation and understanding that needed no further explanation.

God’s Visit Makes the Difference
Before God visited Job, no one could comfort him for the loss of his children and reputation. No one could soothe the pain of his boils nor answer any of his questions. But all of this was resolved when God came to him. Job arose in joy and relief as he looked into the eyes of the Eternal. Any questions he may have had were answered in the supernatural touch and in the revelation of God Himself. Once Job resolved his situation between himself and God, he was then able to receive comfort from and be comforted by his friends.

From Job and Jacob we learn that comfort does not usually come instantly but rather follows certain processes such as the normal time needed for grief, as well as the time required to take care of necessary spiritual transactions between us and God. We need to realize that God loves us, that He desires to reveal Himself to us and bring us into His presence to receive enabling power by His grace. He may come to us in our private prayers, He may reach out to us through the love and touch of a friend or through fellow Christians. He may allow us to grieve for a while, but He will not leave us bereaved and desolate. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be His Presence with us to strengthen, encourage, and comfort. (John 14: 16-18)

“…It was too painful for me---until I went into the sanctuary.” Psalm 73: 17


“I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eyes see you…” Job 42: 5


“…in Your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps. 16: 11

“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 tribulation…” 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

No comments: