The God of All Comfort and Assurance

Jenny ThompsonPosted on Monday, January 6, 2014 by Jenny Thompson

Introduction

Ultimately, God is the only one who can provide relief from pain, stress worry or anxiety, and make something certain or overcome doubt in our minds and hearts.

We may try and seek for this in other ways, but only God can bring that deep comfort and assurance to our hearts and minds.

It’s so easy for us to build up so much worry and negative thoughts about the present or future circumstances that it can literally cripple us up on the inside of our lives.

Let’s for a moment think back during the course of our lives and remember the many times when we worried about things that never actually came to pass – I have been very good at doing that myself! Other times, our worries are based on fact, which of course we find most difficult.

So we all need to know the comfort, assurance and the love of God deep in our hearts.

God gives this to us so that we may know His peace and rest. We actually have no need to fear because He is near. I know, so easy to say and much more difficult to live day by in this truth – perfect love casts out all fear. He loves us so perfectly, the more we really know this deep inside, then fear will increasingly lose its evil grip upon us.

According to physicians and psychologists, up to 80% of all illnesses are attributed to stress, which can be called the result of an anxious heart and mind. For some, it can actually lead to physical death. We must realize that anxiety, just like loneliness can kill.

Jeremiah 31:15-17 (TLB)

“The Lord spoke to me again, saying: In Ramah there is bitter weeping – Rachel weeping for her children and cannot be comforted, for they are gone. But the Lord says: Don’t cry any longer, for I have heard your prayers and you will see them again; they will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future, says the Lord, and your children will come again to their own land.”

Some of us can read the first part of this passage today and we know that feeling of mourning, because we have felt it the past, and may be experiencing it now.

But out of mourning will come hope. Sorrow will turn to joy. The people of God were taken into exile – taken from all they knew, and thrown into a foreign land. Experiencing death is a bit like being in exile, being thrown into an unknown, dark place – where only grief is known.

But the prophet Jeremiah speaks words of hope. This hope does not come straight away – it took at least 67 years between the destruction of the temple and the fall of Jerusalem before God’s people began to see signs of hope for the return to their land!

Did this mean that it was not really much use for God’s people to hear those words from Jeremiah?

Of course not!

The prophet still spoke words of hope to them, because they so desperately needed to hear those words of hope that they clung to, until the hope was revealed. God wants to speak words of hope to some of us today. We need God’s words of hope in the midst of what we are going through to help us to keep going.

Also, we are to speak His words of hope, courage, joy and light in the midst of the difficulties that we are facing. Yes it is still dark, but the light will come!

So Rachel is crying inconsolably – her tears will not stop. There is no end to them. She is weeping for her children and refuses to be comforted. Verse 15 tells us,

“She cannot be comforted.”

So most, if not all of us have been there at some time in our lives. Or maybe we know someone who is there right now.

Rachel was weeping, and not for the first time. Rachel, you may remember was the wife of Jacob and the mother of Joseph. She had made him the coat of many colours.

Her son, was reportedly torn to bits by a wild animal, when in fact his half-brothers had sold him into slavery. Unfortunately Rachel did not live long enough to later learn that actually her beloved Joseph was still alive and living in Egypt.

His name, Joseph meant ‘he adds’ but he was taken away from her. Rachel was also the mother of the twelfth and last of Jacob’s sons, in whose childbirth she died after naming him Ben-Oni, which means ‘son of my sorrow.’

Evidently, her husband Jacob was unwilling to live with the constant reminder of his late wife’s grief, so he renamed the boy ‘Ben-Yamin‘ meaning ‘son of the south’ or ‘son of the right hand.’

So Rachel was a woman of sorrows and acquainted with grief. By the time the prophet Jeremiah mentions her name and her tears, the descendants of her Joseph and Ben-Oni had been exiled from the land of their living into Assyria, which is modern day Iraq, for more than a century.

Rachel is not weeping just for her children here in Jeremiah 31, she is also weeping for the entire children of Israel.

They are tears for all those whose days have turned to darkest night, whose dreams have turned to nightmares, whose lives have been cut short by death.

What does this immediately remind us of? The countless number of abused, used, sick and poverty stricken people throughout our world, nation and town, but in particular ‘the children’.

Rachel is crying inconsolably. Her tears will not stop. There is no end to them.

But this scripture does not abandon Rachel in the middle of her uncontrollable weeping. In verse 17, the Lord announces to her, and to all who weep for the children,

“There is hope for your future.”

Hope is not vain optimism. Hope is what sustains us when there is every good reason to feel hopeless. Hope is not looking on the bright side on life. Hope is what keeps us going when we can see nothing but darkness on every side.

“There is hope for your future, says the Lord.”

…and the bridge between weeping and hope is work. Verse 16 says,

“your work will be rewarded.”

In the end, the reward is not for our weeping, but for our working, even though we are weeping.

So in the middle of what is going on, by God’s grace we keep calm and carry on. We keep praying, we keep working. In other words, we keep carrying on with our normal everyday lives!

Some people think that children of responsible parents are not at risk from getting caught up, for example, with drug and alcohol abuse or illicit sexual activity et al. because they’re being brought up in the right way. However, children of responsible parents are just at much at risk as well as children of irresponsible parents.

Sociologists tell us this is because affluent children have the money, access to transport and the unsupervised time necessary to mix this lethal cocktail together.

Of course the truth is that all children everywhere are at risk!

How we need to pray for those of us who are involved in any capacity with ministry to children!

The Holy Spirit is our great comforter! This is part of His ministry to us. Jesus had made it very clear to His disciples that He was not going to leave them comfortless or like orphans. No, He was going to send the comforter, who would be with them always.

Jesus said in John 14:16 (KJV),

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.”

The Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are indeed His child. But are we 100% sure that we belong to Jesus Christ? Do we have this deep assurance deep down on the inside of our hearts?

Only He can give us that assurance. It is nothing to do with the things we have done or not done in our lives – it is about entering into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Now, it is true that it is easier to talk or write about overcoming anxiety, but quite another thing to undergo stressful, anxiety-producing situations.

Do we realize that there is a God in heaven who is quite informed about our present situation, and what is going on inside our hearts?

Jesus is not just a cosmic static watcher, who is emotionally detached from us and wants to leave us alone to get on with it. No, He has the power to save, and provide for all the things that we need and bring peace to our hearts and minds which we so desperately need.

At stressful times we need to think about the character of Almighty God, He cares more about us than anyone else.

We need to focus in on His word which will reveal his purposes to us. As we focus our minds and hearts upon His love, majesty and sovereignty, we will gradually come to realise that our problems are not too big for Him to handle. That He can and will undertake for us as we put our trust in Him.

  • Isaiah 26:3

    “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

  • Philippians 4:6-7

    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So we are not meant to succumb to anxiety, even though we may face very stressful situations at times.

Our initial, human response is to immediately give in to worry or fear when certain news or feelings come to us. But for us to dwell on that anxiety when it comes to us is, as we know, not helping and prevents us actually from receiving the peace from God.

Sometimes He answers prayer according to our faith, but not always. Sometimes it is just a matter of His sovereign will, where He knows what will be better for us ultimately, in spite of what we think may be best.

We just need to commit everything into His capable hands. He is here for you right now – He knows your hurt and tears. He has enough power also to work everything out for our best somehow.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Remember that Abraham, Job, David and others worshipped God in the middle of terrible circumstances.

You see they had learnt a lesson – they realised that God was over and above all the circumstances of their lives.

See how much we need to learn to worship God despite our circumstances, to trust Him with it all, and then His peace over take us, and anxiety will lose its grip on our lives.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

May He be your Comforter today as you believe Him and take His Word of comfort into your heart.

What is troubling you right now? It doesn’t matter how big the problem is, bring it all to Him right away in prayer.

Bring Him all your fears, tears and frustrations. Let Him give you that peace right now as you look to Him.

The truth is, all is well because you and I are safely resting in His loving arms. To know that we are being held by Him in the midst of anxious times is all that we ultimately need!

The more we know this, then the more we will still be able to worship Him in the midst of our difficulties.

Psalm 94:19

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation (comfort) brought joy to my soul.”

So let’s,

  1. Commit the problem or bad news to God immediately;
  2. Worship Him and focus on His greatness and goodness and love for us and our situation;
  3. Believe that He will fill us with His peace, which we are then able to receive as we are trusting in Him;
  4. Continue believing that He will work everything out for our ultimate good because that is what He has said.

Amen.

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