God our comfort

Today’s introduction brings us into a difficult area – it’s a question many ask – where is God in the midst of all this suffering that we see reported in the media. In some cases, we are the ones suffering – and, we can become depressed with the darkness that we sometimes experience.

Selwyn writes; “How much we miss when we fail to see and sense God’s timing in our earthly affairs. If we look at our lives strictly as they are laid out before us and lose sight of the fact that God is at work, we can fall prey to doubt and disillusionment. … “

I survive these dark times by looking at what happened to Jesus – he died a terrible death but he lived to experience His glorious resurrection. His sacrifice has given me the belief that, I too, will experience resurrection into a new and better life. It’s knowing how this story ends, that gives me the strength to live though each of life’s chapters, in this suffering world. Yet, it’s not all grey and gloomy – there’s many a rainbow to be seen.

As Selwyn says in his conclusion: “No mater what your circumstances, never, never lose hope. God is our ever-present help and comfort.”

In Matthew 10:27-34 (NIV), we hear Jesus say: ” … What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. … “

You can trust in God’s love, He knows you and is actively working in your life to guide you home. All the small things of your life – He follows with interest; all the thoughts you toss around in your head – He knows; there’s not a thing about you that Jesus is not aware of.

Considering that there are over 6 billion people on this planet; and lots of sparrows; it should encourage us that God is not overwhelmed by such numbers and has more than enough time to always be with each one of us.

And, that’s simply amazing!

‘Go home and suffer’

The main message coming out of today’s study is: “Just as Jesus’ wounds give Him a special empathy for us in our struggles and sorrows, so our own wounds can be used to soothe and strengthen those who hurt.”

And, the verses selected for reading and meditation by Selwyn, are excellent – in that they illustrate the main point – that our ability to comfort others, comes from God.

1 Corinthians 1:1-11 (NLT): “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.

When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.  We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”

In summary, we don’t rely on our own strength and personal experiences – we rely, only on God, to provide His comfort and love to our neighbour, through us.

Any comments?

‘I have suffered’

The verses, set for reading and meditation, again highlight the fact that Jesus loves us so much that He was prepared to suffer for us – to give us, life. He was prepared to die for those who did not know Him.

In Peter’s first letter, [1 Peter 3: 8-9, 13-18 (NLT)] we read:   ” … all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. 

Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!

[Jesus suffered for doing what is right.] Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners, to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. …”.

I thought that as we are approaching Easter, it’s good to remind ourselves of the sacrifice Jesus made to set us free from the bondage of sin and death.

Again, like the last few studies, I’ve enjoyed reading Selwyn’s conclusion: “Whenever we are in need of succour [help; relief; aid; assistance] in our lives and Jesus comes alongside, the first  thing that impresses itself into our consciousness is the fact that He has pierced hands. There is a kinship among those who suffer which others cannot share. They understand each other! In moments of trial, Jesus has no need to say anything. It is enough that He shows us His hands.”

In a way, this sentence from today’s prayer completely captures Selwyn’s theme: “You fully comfort me because You fully understand me.”