Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Strength of Comfort

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.  Psalms 30:4-5

The Latin word comfort has two parts, Com, meaning together with, and fort, meaning strength. It denotes "bringing strength together."
In comfort, Christ comes to our side and shares his strength.  This is the comfort offered to those who mourn.  Apart from him there is no true and lasting consolation.  With him, even in sorrow, one can be supremely happy.
The word comfort suggests strengthening, not soothing.  It does not suggest an armchair or a bed.  The root meaning is to make strong, to fortify. Therefore, don't ask for immunity from sorrow; ask for strength.
Godly comfort is not designed for or available to those who are rebelliously discontented, regretfully hurt over worldly loss, repining because of a melancholy disposition or remorseful over wounded pride.  This comfort is intended for and accessible to those who are regretful over offending God, repentant under God's discipline, responsive to God's grace, or related to God by faith.  True comfort is bearing a heavy load sustained by someone who assists you to overcome.
Significance of Comfort
Comfort has no meaning without mourning.  The time of greatest loss in your life is your opportunity to discover the greatness of God in comfort.  The value of comfort is always proportionate to the depth of loss.
Godly comfort does not always include the removal of the cause.  Fear of darkness can be relieved without removal of darkness.  Look at Psalm 23:4 "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."
God’s purpose in comfort may be to change tragedy into blessing.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  Many an individual has looked back upon what he saw to be his greatest loss and realized it to be his greatest gift because of the impact that comfort and reassessment of values had on his life.  Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is the removal of the test before the change occurs in the life.
It is through a difficult trial and comfort we discover a closer relationship to God.  David in Psalms 51:3-4 discovers his sin is against God and then realizes God’s desire in Psalms 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Those who have been through the worst often know God the best.
Lastly, comfort makes us usable to God.  It is not God's purpose to comfort us in our mourning to make us comfortable, but “that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the same comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (2 Cor. 1:4).
Proper Mourning…
a.    Brings recognition of our spiritual need
b.    Emanates from a quickened spirit
c.     Brings ability to rejoice
d.    Increases compassion for others
EVERY SUFFERING can be blessed because it hollows out a place in us for God
and his comfort, which is infinite joy.
- Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue
Scripture to Claim:
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. (Psalms 51:12-13)

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