Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Embrace it!

Some might believe being a Christian ensures a life of ease. Like it is some one-way ticket to a 'silver-platter' kind of existence. Then all of a sudden there is some unforeseen event that occurs, knocking us for a loop, and we get all up in God's grill over him allowing such a catastrophic disturbance of our 'ease'. It is easy for us to believe that God is not with us in our times of suffering. It is very important for us to recognize God as the "Father of all mercy" or "Father of Compassion and Comfort". Remembering that a father is one who has begotten a child and as such, he has a certain sense of responsibility for that child, it is natural for us to believe he will always ensure our 'ease'. God does not abandon those he calls his children, but a little unrest in our 'ease' is not abandonment!

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

As our heavenly father, he has a consciousness of the distress we are going through. That ever-present consciousness brings about a desire to alleviate that distress for us. As a parent, one of the toughest struggles I encounter is knowing when to allow my children to experience the discomfort or unease of the circumstances, and when to intervene to alleviate that distress and to restore their ease. There is often a lesson is allowing the child to "find their way out" of the discomfort, so intervening too soon lessens the opportunity for them to learn from having chosen a wrong path. God is sensitive to the emotions of his children - he is moved by them, but he is more interested in our growth than he is in our ease.

As the God of all Comfort, or God of all Healing Counsel, we can observe there is a side of God's character that is yearning to offer strengthening aid - even when we haven't asked for it yet. He comes alongside, as a support, to bring consolation in times of trouble, and to remove worries because he knows how much these things are disturbing our sense of 'wholeness' and 'balance' in life. God's intention is to bring relief - immense encouragement, deeply felt hope, and release from the grief or trouble we are experiencing, but not at the expense of our growth.

Hurts are a part of life - we cannot escape them. It has been a tough lesson to learn that comfort is often found not in the absence of pain, but IN the midst of it. Think about it - do you really appreciate your comfort until you are experiencing pain that you cannot relieve? When that throbbing ache in your back, or the pounding in your head, is finally ended - isn't that when you realize the beauty of comfort? Being comforted is not equivalent to being comfortable, though. The term being comfortable carries the idea of being content or secure, free from doubt, stress, and tension. The idea of being comforted carries the idea of being strengthened greatly, or being made strong - in the hope that is given, in the word of encouragement received, and in the presence of the one who is making us strong.

Comfort that comes from God is not based on our circumstances. In the midst of the moment of our affliction, we cry out for comfort. We think that if the circumstances change, then our comfort will return. God is compassionate - yet some of his greatest comfort comes in giving us the strength to go on in our discomfort a little longer - so we might come out stronger on the other side of that discomfort! We often equate comfort to deliverance - God often equates it with the strength to "bear up" under the pressures of the circumstances and to remain encouraged. It is in moments of deep sorrow that God brings deep peace - he is close enough to meet our deepest needs. There are a lot of "avenues" that God travels in our lives - each one involves him coming alongside - whether it be the "avenue" of grief, anxiety, regret, or personal pain. Don't curse your unease - embrace it and learn from it! Just sayin!

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