Just hearing the word comfort has a way of easing pain and relieving stress caused by that pain. Comfort comes in many forms. Babies love their pacifiers and fuzzy blankets, older children get attached to stuffed animals, an old pair of sweat pants and a baggy tee-shirt make some of us happy and of course there is always and forever COMFORT FOOD! What’s your favorite? Ice cream, chili cheese fries, chocolate, mashed potatoes, double stuffed Oreos- the list is endless. Anyway, you get the picture. Somehow, someway, these things manage to give us comfort. They soothe us in distress or sorrow, which is exactly what comfort is supposed to do. There is a tiny problem though-all these things mentioned above are exactly that-they are things and things cannot genuinely comfort. They may make us feel good for a while, but it is fleeting. When the sorrows are huge and the stress is mounting, there aren’t enough Hershey bars on the planet to make it better.
As much as I love Graeter’s Double Chocolate Chip ice cream, in all honesty there is something even better. When my heart is overwhelmed to the point of breaking, nothing comforts like the touch of a loved one or a special friend. To have someone come along beside me and let me know they care and understand. They don’t need to speak a word, just their presence is enough. Part of the many components of comfort is to give hope and to make one strong. When someone reaches out to us in a spirit of caring that is exactly what happens-suddenly we feel stronger and we have hope for a better tomorrow.
But even here there is a catch. We must never become to dependant on that human touch. As a dear friend reminded me this past week, the arm of flesh will fail us and that includes all flesh not just our own.
The Lord Jesus knew that. Knowing each one of us so very well and loving us so very much, He solved that problem for us. With His death fast approaching and His return to Heaven imminent, He completely understood what His disciples would soon be facing-an unbearable sorrow and overwhelming heartbreak. He began preparing them for a life where they would not see Him any longer-where they would no longer walk beside Him and be able to reach out and touch Him. I love His tenderness with them, meeting their needs before they even knew what those needs were. In John 14:16-18, Jesus tells them about the Comforter who would come and live with them forever. He assures them that although it seems as if He is gone, He would not leave them as orphans but that He would come to them. Now I’m not sure that His followers understood everything He said to them that day. Isn’t that a part of what faith is? Not understanding everything and yet believing anyway. They saw Him die, they rejoiced in His Resurrection, and heard Him say as He returned to Heaven, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”
How they must have missed Him-missed everything about Him. All of them gathered together in that upper room-each one with their own thoughts and emotions and then suddenly the room was filled with His presence. They could not see him visibly but He was there-His spirit filled them. I believe they remembered then how He had told them that the Comforter would come and that they would never be alone again.
It is true that His Spirit dwelt inside of them, empowering them, giving them direction and guiding them. But I also know that His Spirit gave them something more. He gave them comfort-coming along beside them to make them strong-to give them hope-to speak words of love and understanding to them. And then they knew-they knew that nothing could ever separate them from Him again-NOT EVER.
You and I as His followers have the same amazing gift and blessing; the constant abiding of His Spirit living in us forever. Just like His disciples, the Holy Spirit empowers us, gives us direction and guides us AND He gives us comfort. This is the comfort that never fails, that is constantly available and brings with it a hope that is irresistible.
As we walk through this life on our way to our eternal life, we will meet with many difficulties and even heartaches. It is then that we must let the Holy Spirit do His greatest work in our wounded hearts-and that is comfort us. Listen to His words of comfort, rest in His arms of comfort and know that nothing can ever separate us from Him-NOT EVER.