Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort

I am healing after surgery.

I find that, in general, my body systems feel better if I don't take my pain medicine.  However.  There are times I still need to take that pain medicine.  Like 15 minutes ago.  I waited and waited, and then I took it, because I needed it.  I needed some comfort.

God's Word says,
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. 
For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, 
so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
~2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)

God is merciful, and He comforts us.  He loves us, and He is tender towards us.  He understands us, and He cares. He allows us to suffer, but He does not abandon us in our suffering.  He upholds us and strengthens our faith.

God knows when the pain is good for us...
when it will tender our souls,
when it will teach us compassion for others,
when it will prepare us perfectly for whatever ministry He has in store for us.

And God knows when we need "a pain pill," when we need comfort.  And when we need it, He gives it.  He is merciful.  He doesn't go around smashing reeds that are already bruised (Matthew 12:20).

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
for the Lord has comforted His people
and will have compassion on His afflicted.
~Isaiah 49:13 (ESV)

We've been through a lot this year.  We have never had a year like this one.  Now that we are finally settling in our new home, things seem to be evening out.  For that, we are thankful.  Shortly after the move, back when the sun-porch was still plumb full of cardboard boxes, we were blessed by a visit from a NY friend, and when we went to pick her up at the airport in Chicago, we were doubly blessed to be able to attend Sunday morning services at the church of Colin Smith, my favorite radio preacher.

Pastor Colin was preaching on Joel 2, the second half, the part about God restoring the years that the locusts had eaten.  There are times when you wonder what God wants you to get out of a sermon, and times when you know what He is telling you, but it's a little hard to swallow.  There are times when it is difficult to concentrate on a sermon, and even (for shame!) times when you wish someone else were there to hear it.  But that Sunday morning, in a strange city, in an unfamiliar church, I sat there and just thought, "No way!  He's talking to me, to me," as the tears welled up behind my eyes.  All the difficulties, all the fearful things we had faced and would continue to face, all the loss and disappointment... God promises to restore.  Someday we will never again be put to shame, and He will pour out His Spirit on us.  We will eat in plenty and be satisfied.  He will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

Do you know what my favorite line of Psalm 23 has been lately?

He restores my soul.
~Psalm 23:3a (ESV)

And another verse I cling to (I first learned this one when I was teaching Sunday school to first and second graders)...

For You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
~Psalm 86:17b (NIV)

He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.