How You Can Find Comfort

 

 

Human distress has reached epidemic proportions in this turbulent world. Each and every one of us at one time or another has experienced a longing for comfort. Life is fraught with trials and stressful situations which tax our emotional and physical health. The death of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, illness, financial worries, misfortune, and low self-esteem can create a feeling of hopelessness and panic deep within the heart. Prolonged stress, fear, anxiety, grief and negative emotions can affect the body and contribute to a chemical imbalance in the brain, producing depression. Severe depression may begin take hold …an unrelenting feeling of loneliness, despair, and unworthiness, robbing a person of enthusiasm and suffocating him as if he were wrapped in heavy blankets out in the burning August sun.

Where can we find comfort? Think back to an episode in your childhood for a moment. Was there ever an incident when you hurt yourself, maybe you scraped your knee when you fell off your bike? And someone -- perhaps a parent, friend, or nurse – gently tended to your wound? How did that make you feel? Didn’t your fear and pain melt away once you were cleaned, bandaged up, and sent scurrying away with a kiss or a hug? For the rest of the day, even if the physical pain of your injury didn’t go away, when you thought about the tender aid you received, you felt better.

On the path of adulthood, too, we suffer from bumps, bruises, scrapes, and sometimes very deep wounds and severe trauma. We can find soothing relief from someone who loves us more intensely than anyone on earth, our heavenly Father. He is called "the Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation." (2 Corinthians 1:3-7) Yes, our creator cares for us deeply and is ready to help bandage our wounds and soothe our emotions. How is this possible? We cannot see Him, cannot feel Him, and for many people He seems so far off in the distant unknown they cannot imagine that He would even notice them.

The answer to the question is found in His instruction manual to mankind, the Holy Bible. There we learn that one of the ways God soothes us is by providing assurance of His love. Notice what He said to His prophet Jeremiah: "With a love to time indefinite I have loved you. That is why I have drawn you with loving kindness." (Jeremiah 31:3)  In Isaiah 43:4 God was speaking to humans when he said "Owing to the fact that you have been precious in my eyes ... I myself have loved you."  And Proverbs 11:20 reveals that "the ones blameless in their way are a pleasure to him." First John 4:8 tells us that "God IS love" and explains that He loved us first and this affection moved Him to give us His most precious possession -- His son Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul was sure of God’s attachment to humans: "I am convinced that … nothing will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38, 39)

But how do we know that this Almighty being notices us? Does He really know YOU? Jesus clues us in on that question by his kind words recorded in Luke 12:6, 7: "Five sparrows sell for two coins of small value, do they not? Yet not one of them goes forgotten before God. But even the hairs of your head are numbered. Have no fear; you are worth more than many sparrows." Do you know how many hairs are on your head? God is so well acquainted with you that HE knows the exact number. Jesus went on to explain in verses 22-31 that God clothes the lilies of the field and feeds the birds, reminding us that we are of far greater value in His eyes. He concluded with the promise that our heavenly Father will take care of us and that if we seek His kingdom first, we do not need to worry about having our needs met.

Another touching discovery is in the book of Psalms. In the 139th chapter we learn just how extensively God is aware of our existence. Verses 15 and 16 tell us "My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret … your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing." Verses 3 and 4 add "… you have become familiar with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but look! you already know it all."

What beautiful, soothing thoughts! Our creator knows us so intimately and is interested in the details of our lives. He loves us. Understandably, a person who is severely depressed or is fighting a losing battle against his weaknesses may find it difficult to believe that God places such a high value on him. You may feel that way yourself, convinced that you are not worthy of God’s love. "Our hearts may condemn us," says 1 John 3:19, 20, but take comfort in knowing that "God is greater than our hearts and knows all things." This awe-inspiring creator knows that we are not able to live life perfectly. He understands that we inherited sin from our first parents, Adam and Eve, and therefore cannot always act or think in the way we wish. But remember how intimately He knows us – which means He also knows what is in our hearts. He senses our desire to do the right thing, He knows our circumstances, our mental and emotional makeup. He knows how frustrated we are. The fact that we feel badly about this indicates our heartfelt desire to please Him. He takes all of these factors into consideration when He examines us, and exercises the greatest compassion toward His dear children … just as Jesus did when he walked the earth. If you have a personal copy of the Bible, please read Psalms 103:8-14 to see for yourself what God’s feelings are on the matter.

If you have grown up in an environment where love and affection were not displayed, or if you have suffered abuse or victimization, you may find it difficult to grasp just how deeply God loves you and there will be some trust issues involved. As we learned earlier, he is the very personification of love – all his other qualities combined still do not equal the quality of love. He can love us intensely no matter how unlovable we may feel, no matter how unworthy we may feel, no matter how foreign the concept of pure love is to us, no matter how much we feel we are not good enough.

To illustrate the value God places on us despite our weaknesses and mistakes, consider how a well-known speaker once started off a seminar. He held up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?” Hands started going up. He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this …” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked: “Who still wants it?” Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still the hands went into the air. “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value: dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you [especially to God]. The worth of our lives come not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE. You are special -- don't ever forget it.”  Yes, your worth to your Creator is far greater than you may realize. Remember: if God would pay so high a price—his own Son’s precious life—to buy us an opportunity to live forever, surely He must love us; surely we must be worth something in His eyes!

Comfort can also be found in recognizing that despair and a loss of enthusiasm are normal responses to depressing situations. Here is another way the Bible is a source of encouragement. It contains the personal stories of people in ancient times who had feelings like ours. These were faithful, loyal, treasured servants of God. Yet Job, Moses, and the prophets Jonah and Elijah each asked God to die because of hardships they encountered. Others such as Abraham, David, Jacob, Korah, Asaph, and even Jesus exhibited symptoms of depression and painful emotions. Some expressed the feeling that God had abandoned them. Yet that did not make them any less valuable to God. He spoke high words of praise for such men and also helped them regain a sense of joy.

It is also a consolation to note that the Bible acknowledges this mental state known as depression. Proverbs 18:14 states: "The spirit of a man can put up with his malady, but as for a striken spirit [depressed mind], who can bear it?" Christians were urged: "Speak consolingly to the depressed souls." (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Jesus spoke of anguish and fear that would pervade the thoughts of man during this time period in which we are now living.

We are repeatedly encouraged to throw our burdens upon God and seek His help through prayer. Psalm 145:19 assures us that "the desire of those fearing him He will perform, and their cry for help He will hear, and He will save them." And Philipians 4:6, 7 offers the formula for peace: "Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus." Please read this again, and feel what this scripture is saying to you. It is saying that if you ask God for help and share your anxieties with Him, peace will wash over you. A peace that excels all thought is one which can override our negative thoughts, our panic, our sense of hopelessness. This peace will guard your heart and your mind. It is the most powerful and inexpensive prescription in the world!

If you are currently in a situation which seems hopeless with absolutely no way out, rest assured -- God can soothe you. Jesus extends this heartwarming invitation at Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you …" Why not give The Almighty and His son the opportunity to make good on their promises? Allow them to help you, because no one else truly understands what you are going through. Your creator knows you on such an intimate level, far beyond your understanding of yourself. And He offers to empower you. Please take Him up on the offer. You will see a difference.

Take comfort, too, in knowing that there is nothing human beings can experience that is beyond God’s ability to repair. That statement may seem a bit illogical. You may wonder how He could fix a terminal illness, or a desperate family situation, or the death of someone you love. He can, and He will. We have solid promises in the Bible about a time in the future when "God will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more. Neither will mourning, nor outcry, nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away. And the one seated on the throne said ‘Look! I am making all things new.’" (Revelation 21:4, 5) "Just a little while longer and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it." (Psalms 37:10, 11, 29)

To truly bring these scriptures to life, please try this exercise: close your eyes and imagine yourself in the most beautiful vacation spot in the world. Really go to a beautiful paradise in your mind right now. Try to feel what it is like, using all five of your senses. There are no deadlines to meet, no appointments, nothing to cause you stress. You are enjoying harmony with the animal kingdom, delicious mouth-watering food, beautiful weather. Keep stretching your imagination and you will see no criminals, no wheelchairs, no hospitals, no cemeteries. You take a deep breath and inhale crisp, clean air into your lungs because there are no factories, no fumes, no litter. There is no noise pollution either – the only sounds that can be heard are laughter and the pleasant chirping and songs of birds. You are in perfect physical and mental health, suffering no pain of any kind. Your loved ones, even those who have passed away in death, are there with you and you share warm embraces throughout the day. Are you there in your mind yet? If not, please keep bringing these images up until you can feel yourself there. It may be difficult, but if you keep trying you should be able to feel something in time. How does it feel? What word or phrase would you use to describe the feeling you have at this moment? Peace, tranquility, serenity, happiness, calmness, security, contentment … perhaps one or more of these emotions. Would you like to experience this same feeling every moment of every day for the rest of forever? This, dear reader, is exactly what your creator is promising you. Peace. Peace now, and peace in the future. It is yours for the asking, if you take the step toward God. James 4:4 assures us "Draw close to God and He will draw close to you." How do you do that? Ask for His help. Even if you are already in the habit of praying regularly to your heavenly Father, ask Him to show you the way to find that path to the fulfillment of His promises and peace. He will listen to you. The next step is to listen to Him. He has valuable information for you in His word, the Bible. There you will learn about this magnificent creator … His personality, His purposes, His requirements for you. Listen to what He is trying to tell you and let Him help you apply what you learn. This will assist you in developing a bond with God that will serve as your life raft during difficult times. The more knowledge you take in, and the more you let that knowledge reach the depths of your heart, the more those promises in the Bible will become real to you and will infuse you with hope. If you actively serve God and regularly meet with others who share a deep devotion to Him, you will acquire a strength only dreamed about by most people.

This connection with God is the key to happiness, the real purpose of life. If you haven't already done so, I hope you will stretch out your hand and accept the key. It will open doors for you -- both now and for the rest of forever.

 

© Copyright March 27, 2000 to present, by Deborah McGeorge


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