Did you know that to comfort also means to strengthen? Did you know that a comfort is something that strengthens you? I definitely didn’t! I thought comfort was something that simply made you feel good, not something that was supposed to remove your weakness.
That puts a unique spin on many of the verses in the Bible that talk of being comforted or comforting. One day, I was bemoaning my present singleness, and an interesting exchange occurred between me and God. (Yes, I talk WITH God. No, I’m not insane…well, at least not dangerously insane! LOL!) Whether it was my own mind or God, I don’t truly know, but I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t just think of this. I digress; God’s question to me was why I wanted a spouse so badly. He asked me what was wrong with where I was right now. That’s when I realized, I wanted a soft, cushy life. I wanted my kids to get good grades, grow up to be model citizens, and I wanted life to be a simple walk through until the grave and then go be with Jesus. I wanted…I wanted Heaven on Earth.
Don’t gloss over that! I really did want Heaven right now. I wanted the end of all pain and suffering, all hell to be contained! And that’s not what He has promised us here. He has promised to be with us. He has promised not to leave us. He has promised to strengthen us. He has promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He has promised us persecution.
Ouch…those last two seem at odds with each other, but only from a worldly perspective. From a Biblical perspective, they are actually one and the same. Is persecution fun? I guarantee you that Pastor Saeed Abedini would tell you that it is quite painful and discouraging. I know he would tell you it is not easy. Was Jesus mistaken? Did He misspeak about His yoke or His burden? No.
I forget who the pastor was, but I heard a pastor the other day on Grace FM (a radio station in most of Colorado that brings Worship and the Word to listeners, www.897gracefm.com) who was speaking on how Jesus, enduring horrendous beatings, was able to, in part, endure the cross because He was looking to the resurrection. We have a similar comfort as we look to Heaven. We can endure the hardships of this life because we look to Heaven.
As I sit and write this, I have been struggling with my own pains. Life has been very busy, and it’s gotten to me. I felt, frankly, almost claustrophobic. And in the midst of this, I began to spiral into my own frustrations and pains. And in the midst of that, I did what so many of us have done; I began to question why God would allow this! And in that moment, God began to speak again.
Why do we blame God for such things? Because He doesn’t stop it…wait. We blame God, but who’s causing the pain? Well, I don’t want to give too much credit to the Evil One, but the reality stands that in our morally anesthetized culture, we have allowed strongholds of sin in our lives, in our hearts and our minds. And when God grabs ahold of us, He will begin to take down those strongholds as we surrender to Him. But the Evil One will not let go of us that easily!
Just like a child who gets mad at his father for discipline, we are quick to blame God when we have created the problem. Could God have stopped us? Yes! But like a father who doesn’t stop his child from a mistake, God lets us do things because He wants our love by choice, not compulsion. And yet, like any good father, He is right there when we’re willing to learn by love, rather than hard knocks.
Our journey, our walk on this Earth with Jesus will not be easy. His yoke is easy, and as we look to Him and Heaven, we will find that true. But in the day-to-day, we will find ourselves sometimes pushed to trust Him in the fiery furnace, to believe He will come through in the lions’ den, and to hold to His word, His morals, if you like, in the midst of deadly persecution.
Surrender to Him, look to Heaven, and walk in faith. He loves you, friend. Keep that in mind. And gird yourself with His armor and fight!
Vires et Honorem – 1 Corinthians 15:10