2 Corinthians 1:3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 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. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 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. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. [NLT]
This passage is remarkable for the number of times some form of the word “comfort” is used in just five verses. Certainly that’s repeated for emphasis. The need for comfort is more frequent that we realize and that need doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes what comfort looks like turns out to be a surprise too. We know “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort” but when faced with a heart in need it “takes one to know one.”
Comfort is the presence of one needy heart’s response in humility to the need of another. It may take the more familiar form of shared scars of experience, love, grace, compassion, Scripture and prayer…OR sometimes it may just take a plate of cookies
Let your heart respond…”when they are troubled…give them the same comfort God has given us.” Comfort is not meant to be the solution. Comfort is the revelation of Jesus from one heart to another and He’s the solution.
Jesus was a revolutionary, who did not become an extremist, since he did not offer an ideology, but Himself.” Henri Nouwen from The Wounded Healer
Psalm 59 – Written by David at the time King Saul set guards at his home to capture and kill him.
1 O my God, save me from my enemies. Protect me from these who have come to destroy me. 2 Preserve me from these criminals, these murderers. 3 They lurk in ambush for my life. Strong men are out there waiting. And not, O Lord, because I’ve done them wrong. 4 Yet they prepare to kill me. Lord, waken! See what is happening! Help me!
9 O God my Strength! I will sing your praises, for you are my place of safety. 10 My God is changeless in his love for me, and he will come and help me. He will let me see my wish come true upon my enemies.
11 Don’t kill them—for my people soon forget such lessons—but stagger them with your power and bring them to their knees. Bring them to the dust, O Lord our shield.
16 But as for me, I will sing each morning about your power and mercy. For you have been my high tower of refuge, a place of safety in the day of my distress. 17 O my Strength, to you I sing my praises; for you are my high tower of safety, my God of mercy.
David writes of his personal “power” struggle in these imprecatory Psalms. His is a struggle between real circumstances and real intimacy with God. You can see that in the verses above. Over and over his conflicted thoughts demand my thought because that’s my power struggle too. Circumstances do not operate independently of intimacy with God.
There’s no way to get around the fact our power struggle is just like David’s. Life was his connection between real circumstances and real intimacy with God. Maybe God is using David’s Psalms to make us look at life in a more realistic way. Life is not a sentence because of circumstances or a slam-dunk because of intimacy with God. Life is our power struggle in which we constantly have to choose whether we’ll give the power to circumstances or to our intimacy with God to effect our response.
• 21 “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
• 23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. 24 Consider carefully what you hear,”
• “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
The crowd Jesus was speaking to was accustomed to their connection to God being dependent on a priest in a synagogue where they would be required to sit until dismissed. Jesus knew two important things about them. They were there because they’d heard he was changing lives AND they were free to wander away at any time.
He gave them stories that could become their lightning flash of reality; to discover a heavenly meaning in the seemingly inconsequential events of daily life. They weren’t meant to be studied at length but to cause an immediate response. If people would see and hear them in the actual presence of God they could discover truth of God that was truly their own. God wasn’t only there in the church, he desired a direct connection to their day-to-day lives.
I read somewhere these words of Jesus are sometimes called orphan statements. I don’t know when the concept of God as Our Father began but I do know without God we’re all orphans. “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. Consider carefully what you hear,”
I’ve paid almost no attention to the “minor” prophets in the Bible but it’s time for a change. Certainly change is a major theme in the book of Hosea. It’s a strange story that reads like an “R” rated soap opera.
Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”…
Hosea 2:10 So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands…14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her…17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked…21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord—“I will respond to the skies and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,..
Hosea 3:1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites….” 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.
I’m sure there are deep symbolic meanings in all the details of this story but I’m going for the cliff notes for these first 3 chapters.
1. God does not ignore broken relationships with generations of faithless people no matter how bad the realities are.
2. Those who exploit the provision of God will be exposed so all can see but even then God will not let them go. He will respond because of his love for what he has created.
3. “The Lord said to me, Go, show your love…”…”They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.”
God’s plan has always been that “R” can become Restored.
Psalm 119:137-144 צ Tsadhe – fish hook?
137 You are righteous, Lord,
and your laws are right.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out,
for my enemies ignore your words.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
and your servant loves them.
141 Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.
The Psalmist had his own reasons for choosing Tsadhe – fish hook as his title. Today it’s a stepping stone, a mental path, to find truth that makes old words real for contemporary life.
Fish hook is only one step away from the idea of being “caught.” Is the Psalmist caught thinking his zeal for God is what changes his enemies? Is that what’s wearing him out? Is he caught by his own perception of what others think of him? Is he caught by his own trouble and distress? Is he caught being human? The answers to all of the above may well be yes.
That’s why his words seem familiar – they’re still struggles of being human today. Maybe Tsadhe – fish hook – is the Psalmists’ way of remembering being “caught” is also what makes it possible for him to find a positive response to those negatives.
He’s “caught on” that despite thorough testing, he still loves the promises of God. He’s “caught on” that God’s righteousness is everlasting but his circumstances aren’t. He’s hooked by these truths that allow him to live, to believe, to be faithful…even though he’s caught being human too. He’s been caught and firmly hooked by a righteous and trustworthy God.