This week in my Living on the Rock Bible study, we are talking about the Holy Spirit, and God’s promise that He is “the God of all comfort.”
Let’s start with the dictionary definition of COMFORT:
verb (used with object)
- to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to: They tried to comfort her after her loss.
- to make physically comfortable.
- to aid; support or encourage.
- relief in affliction; consolation; solace: Her presence was a comfort to him.
- a feeling of relief or consolation: Her forgiveness afforded him great comfort.
- a person or thing that gives consolation: She was a great comfort to him.
- a cause or matter of relief or satisfaction: The patient’s recovery was a comfort to the doctor.
- A state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants, with freedom from pain and anxiety: He is a man who enjoys his comfort.
- something that promotes such a state: His wealth allows him to enjoy a high degree of comfort.
This is important for us to think through if we’re going to claim this promise that our God is a “God of all comfort”, as 2 Corinthians 1 teaches.
Because if you look at the whole testimony of Scripture and God’s promises to us – He does promise (over and over) to “soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to” us. But I don’t see any promise to “make physically comfortable.” We’re actually promised, “In this world you will have trouble…” (but take heart! I have overcome the world!)
The Greek word Paul uses in 2 Corinthians for comfort is Paraklesis (which shares a root with Paraklete – the word used for the Holy Spirit!)
- a calling near, summons, (esp. for help)
- importation, supplication, entreaty
- exhortation, admonition, encouragement
- consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment
I love the idea of comfort as “a calling near…”
I’ve never thought about it before, but is proximity necessary for comfort? Can you comfort from afar?
One of the hardest things about moving to Nebraska and being far from some of the people who are closest to me, is that when hard things happen, I am so far away. And they are so far away when hard things happen to me.
When a child is hurt, you don’t call comfort across the room. You draw that child near, don’t you?
The ministry of comfort is a gift of nearness. A gift of presence. We offer that to others. When a friend is hurting, when a child cries – we draw near, we give the gift of our nearness.
This gives such a beautiful facet to God’s calling Himself “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…”
He’s the God who draws near to us in comfort.
And He’s the “God of all comfort, who draws near to us to comfort us in all our affliction so that we will be able to draw near those who are in any affliction…”
Which leads us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
How much time have you spent thinking about how the Holy Spirit comforts you? Or what it means that the Holy Spirit is our comforter, is the presence of God, always with us?
In one of the passages we looked at this week, Jesus says it’s better for the disciples that He goes away, so that then the Holy Spirit will come.
Do you believe that? Given the choice, would you pick the Spirit with you and in you? Or flesh and blood Jesus walking around with you?
I think we know the right answer (because Jesus says the Spirit is better.) But wouldn’t most of us pick flesh and blood? Someone we could hear and touch and see? I think the disciples would have…
Lucky for us, God the Father didn’t give us that choice! He sent the Spirit – His constant presence, His comfort.
As I have spent time this week thinking about God’s comforting presence – His Spirit – I keep coming back to the question from Isaiah 66:13 in our study this week. “”As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.” I have spent a lot of time thinking about how God Fathers me (which is the focus of our study next week.) But I’ve barely scratched the surface of learning to let God provide for me what a mother provides.
What do you think it means that God comforts us as a mother comforts her child?
I thought of this gift of presence, of drawing near. Often, when one of my children hurts, just my nearness to them, holding them, calms them down. The hardest transition to parenting a teenager is that my kisses no longer make his “owies” all better. But I know that my nearness does – when Luke is hurt, I listen. I draw him close. I remind him that I’m with him and for him, even if he’s blown it. I can’t fix everything – or anything. But it does help to know that I’m in his corner, and I love him.
That is a mother’s love.
Do I believe that this is the Spirit’s ministry to me? To draw near (He is ALWAYS with me.) To remind me of God’s love, that He’s with me and for me, even if I’ve blown it? That I am His and He is mine?
Do I know how to receive that from God?
Will you spend some time TODAY thinking about these questions? Sit in silence, breathing in God’s love. Ask Him to show you His gift of the Spirit, His comfort and presence with you and in you. Join me in asking our Father to make you sensitive to His mothering, to make you able to receive this from Him.
I want to share a song that’s been really helpful to me as I think both of God’s mothering love, and of the Spirit’s presence with me. The lyrics in this song present such a beautiful picture of God’s comfort – He is safety. He is peace. He is HOME.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/4Pg9RogXmek?list=PLFExJF2KBSH2LGsn6TVMB8ou_ykCnhlpv“>“Home to Me” by Jason Upton