Jump Start # 2794
1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Comfort one another with these words.”
Comfort is something that we long for. We want a mattress that sleeps well. We want clothes that are comfortable to wear. We want the temperature of the church house to be just right. We want our coffee hot and our soft drinks cold. We look for furniture that defines comfort, such as an “easy chair.” Doubt many places could sell a “hard” chair. Modern shopping has quick and easy checkout and stay in your car and they will bring your groceries out to you. We sure do have it good when it comes to comfort these days.
There is one area that we have trouble finding comfort and that is in our hearts, minds and emotions. We can wrap ourselves around a nice warm comforter, but that won’t take care of the things that bothers us on the inside. There is no food, no blanket, no chair that will take away your worries, loneliness, fears, sorrow and guilt. And, many times, others just don’t understand. They bring food, which is nice, but the struggles within stay right where they have been on our insides.
In our passage, Paul writes about the death of Christians. This is not intended to be a full and detailed study of death or life after death. These words were given to help those who were struggling on the inside. Fellow Christians had died. Is that it? What’s the purpose, then? Paul’s words are specific. They are directed toward those who die in the Lord. He reveals that they are with the Lord. They are ok. They are not defeated, forgotten or lost. They will always be with the Lord. And, these words end with our verse, ’comfort one another with these words.” It’s the words of God that can help our insides.
When Jesus told the disciples about His coming departure, He promised that they would not be left alone. He was sending help, divine help. The Holy Spirit would come and guide them and teach them. In the New American Standard, the Spirit is called “the Helper” (Jn 14:26). The KJV uses the word “Comforter.”
Now, put some thoughts behind this:
First, there are times and situations in which no one can fully understand what you are going through or how you feel. You can try to tell someone, but it often comes across as complaining or they simply do not get it. God does. God understands. Jesus, as the high priest, sympathizes. The Holy Spirit comforts. This is why prayer does more good than talking things out with someone else. The other person may never understand. The other person has his own struggles that he is dealing with. The other person is limited in how he can help you. Not God. Take it to the Lord in prayer petitions help from one who fully understands.
Second, God’s word can do what no one else can. This is why Paul said, “Comfort one another with these words.” Words of hope. Words of promise. Words that are true. Chicken soup may make your belly feel good, but God’s word can heal your heart and give you peace that you have been missing.
Third, God’s word is tested, tried and true. Look at Elijah hiding in a cave. Look at David on the run from Saul. Paul abandoned at his Roman trial. Joseph forgotten in an Egyptian prison. And, what do we find in those historical accounts? God was with His people. God helped His people. We often look for encouragement from horizontal relationships—each other. But the best encouragement comes from above. So spend some time in those Psalms, written during troublesome times.
Fourth, don’t become angry when others do not appreciate nor understand how you feel. We can get testy with each other. We can make things worse. They may not ever be able to understand what you are going through. Each person, with their own unique background, experiences, knowledge and faith will travel through grief, pain, sorrow, isolation and heartache differently. We may feel that others have let us down, and sometimes they do. We may feel that no one truly cares, and sometimes that may be true. We may feel that we are carrying the burden alone. But others are also feeling this way about themselves. The only one that truly understands how we feel and what we are going through is the Lord. This is why the Psalmist understood that his help comes from above.
Comfort—we like it, want it and need it. Sometimes when we have gone through those seasons of life that are unpleasant and even hard, it equips us to help others. We still may not fully understand, but we now know what pain is like. Our culture is stuck on self. And as society pulls away from others and turns inward, there will be more and more who feel left out, alone and struggling. Paul’s words are even more true now. Comfort one another with these words. It’s the words of God that need to be shared. It’s not our advice or something we read on Facebook. It’s the words of the God of Heaven and earth, the words of the God of mercy, that can truly reach the inner heart. There forgiveness, hope, love and life can be established and built upon.
God is good. He is so good to me. He is so good to you. Do you know that?