Last week we talked about comfort and our need to ask God for comfort. Let me review that a little bit and kind of break that down again.
When we are struggling with pain and suffering, all we really want is for it to stop. We ask God to take care of it. If nothing happens we start bartering with God, then we please and beg. Get mad. When nothing happens we will look for a sin issue, or try to work up our faith to make it stronger.
Then we start to get really upset, maybe at God, or the situation, others or even ourselves. This is when it can feel like we’ll never be okay again. We may feel like our world is over and nothing good is going to happen again. We might even wonder what’s the point of living. We feel defeated, destroyed and abandoned.
But those are all lies.
God can redeem, use, and work through our pain. We learned that God often allows pain for purpose. And that purpose is always for our good. We also learned that when God does this, and we get through it, we eventually have the opportunity to comfort others. In fact, God often uses others to bring us comfort. Finally, we were challenged to not hit the escape buttons in our lives but to seek God’s will, purpose and comfort in the midst of our pain, trials and suffering.
Even with this knowledge we may still struggle to receive God’s comfort? Why?
What are some of the reasons that we do not receive his comfort? Are there barriers?
Are there things we need to do in order to receive God’s comfort?
Or are there things that we need to stop doing in order to receive God’s comfort?
I recently learned the history of the word comfort. It was very enlightening. The history of the word “comfort” is pretty astounding. The word is made from two Latin words, com-, an intensifying prefix which means “together with.” The other half of the word is fortis, which means “strong or strength.” In short, “comfort” originally meant “strength together”.
At some point the Latin word “confortare” comes to mean, “to strengthen much.”
English is constantly evolving and being influenced by other languages. The word, “conforter”, in old French, would add the words “solace” and “help” to the definition.
By the 14th century, another French word, “conforten”, would add to the definition and it would begin to mean, “to cheer up, console.”
By the 1600’s, the English definition of the word implies the sense of physical ease that we understand today.
This the word “comfort” went from meaning, “together in strength,” to meaning “cheer up, console, physical ease.”
In the Greek the word is parakaléō and it means “close-beside”
Keeping that in mind. Let’s go back to Gethsemane. Remember how I told you that Jesus can bring you comfort because He has the T-shirt. Look at this now.
Matthew 26:36-44, NIV
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
I’m thinking he brought them for comfort. But they were failing him here.
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Three times he asks. He keeps going back. Asking for a way out. Yet leaving it in God’s hands.
Now Luke 22:43-44, ESV
And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
Together Strength. God sent comfort. Not a free ride, not a pass, not a way out, not physical ease.
Jesus received comfort because He wanted God’s will over His will. He counted on the promises of God and kept his focus on the end game.
Psalms 119:50, ESV
This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.
And what are God’s promises?
The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made. (Psalm 145:8-9)
Though [your mother] may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. (Isaiah 49:15-16)
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain… (Revelation 21:4)
Just like we talked about last week. Pain is to be expected in this world and the Lord tells you to prepare for it. While he never says he will keep us from pain and suffering, he does say that he will be close beside. He will be with us. He is together with us. The together strength we need to get thru.
Praise be to the LORD, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19)
Here are 3 reasons we don’t get his comfort.
No matter what you have done, when you repent, or turn from your sin, God forgives you your sins and also cleanses you from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) If you have already confessed your sins and Satan keeps bringing them up again, remember when God forgives, He makes you clean as snow. I have found praying God’s promise of turning all things to good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28) over any past sins removes the power of Satan’s lies.
- We don’t believe in it
We need to believe all of God’s Word in order to receive His promises. Jesus said the Law, the Psalms and the prophets testified of Him. The verses we used today are from the Law-Deuteronomy, from Psalms and from the Prophets. God’s Word is true from Genesis 1:1 all the way through Revelation. If you take even one verse out of the original manuscript, you have made the whole Bible null and void. If one verse is wrong, then what else is wrong? What promises to you from God have you just removed? You have just removed the trustworthiness of God’s truth, therefore you will not receive the fullness of His promises to you.
I heard a beautiful testimony this week from a person who told me how they struggled one time in the dark valley. They cried out to God and asked why He seemed so far away. This person could not sense him in any way and felt desperately alone. As the person was praying, God gave a vision of the darkness and emptiness in front of them and then a tall wall. Then the perspective changed within the vision. The person then described how the view backed up and above them. From this perspective the person saw the emptiness and the wall but outside that wall was radiant gold light flowing to them but being stopped by the wall so the radiance went around their being. God told this person that they chose not to receive His love and presence. I then asked if this person knew what the wall was. “Yes, and I removed it immediately. I could then receive God’s presence and love and comfort.”
- We don’t want it.
Most of us here have cats. The rest probably do not have cats for this reason. If they want attention and your love, it is only on their terms. If you go to love on a cat and they don’t want it: you find out what a cat really is made of – claws and teeth. How many times do we do that to God? We tell Him, “No! Not now! I do not want what You have for me! I WANT to be angry! I WANT to blame someone! I WANT to be frustrated and hurt!” Somehow, within, we know we have to surrender our anger, our frustration, our pain, our offense, our hatred, our right to be right, our pride, in order to receive God’s comfort.
This week, I pray you have the courage and desire to tear down the walls between you and God so that you can receive the fullness of God’s comfort through your current struggles. Stay with Him, fight for His truth and you will receive His peace and joy beyond your expectations!