Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The God of All Comfort

I've been writing weekly devotionals for our church website and thought I would share them here as well.

When we think of comfort we usually associate it with helping someone in their time of trial or grief by offering hope and consolation.  Dave Roever, someone certainly well acquainted with suffering and sorrow, suggested another way in which we can comfort others. We can encourage them to get back in the battle. 

We may think this a difficult thing to offer in the way of comfort. Likely our first instinct is to sympathize and soothe, and both of those things are good. However, our comfort must not stop there. Perhaps we can find a good example in scripture of the way we should comfort. 

Who better to model comfort than the Lord Himself? In I Kings 18 and 19 we find the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Simply put - Elijah had just come from a mighty victory over the 450 false prophets. God had worked through him in a mighty, miraculous way. He should have been celebrating. Instead we find him running for his life from the wicked Queen Jezebel. 

As happens to so many of us, Elijah went from the mountain top headlong into the valley. Discouraged and feeling abandoned he begged God to take his life. Then he lay down under a broom tree and slept. 

With tender compassion, God sent an angel to minister to Elijah.  He gave him bread and water - the kind of comfort Elijah needed in that moment. 

A few verses later we find Elijah talking things over with the Lord. He stood before God on the mountain as a mighty wind that tore the rocks lose buffeted him; then an earthquake shook the ground and after that a fire. But God was not in any of those things. Instead Elijah heard the sound of a gentle whisper and knew it was the Lord.

The Lord listened to Elijah as he poured out his complaints. He had remained faithful to the Lord when all of Israel had abandoned Him. He alone was left and now they were trying to kill him. 

The Lord responded not with commiserating words but by giving Elijah his marching orders. He sent him back to continue the work He had called him to do. Among those things, he was to anoint Elisha who would eventually replace him as Israel’s prophet. Before he left, the Lord reminded Elijah that there were 7000 others in Israel who had never bowed to Baal. He was not alone after all. 

The God of all comfort was with Him - as He is with us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

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.” II Corinthians 1: 3-5 

We comfort with compassion and love. We also comfort with encouragement to continue in the battle - for we know the victory is already ours.

Picture: Lisa Chontos Seguin