Sunday, December 14, 2008

Source of Comfort in Uncomfortable Times

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God,” writes St. Paul (2 Cor.1.3,4).

Since the last opportunity I had to write a “Bringing Jesus” blog, a new American president was elected, the economy has worsened, we have received news of increased persecution against the church in India, rebel-war recommencing in Congo, and so much more. A lot has happened in the USA, globally, and within the North Central Conference. Much has been good, yet the good appears overshadowed by a sense of doom, particularly economic doom.

It is good to reflect upon the source of our comfort in times of trouble. Paul says that in his times of trouble, the comfort he received came primarily from God. Consequently, he had a source of comfort to share with those to whom he ministered. Later in the text he reflects upon times that were far more challenging than our own when he says (verse 8), “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life! Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead!”

Our comfort does not rest in our economy, or our health, or our politics and our outlook on life cannot be determined by FOX, CNN or BBC. Rather, our outlook must be determined by our deepest hope – the resurrection of the dead and trust in the Divine Lord of Life who makes this a daily living reality for those who place their hope in Jesus.

Perhaps too many of us, too many of our churches, have relied upon our plans, our savings, our personalized hopes and dreams and find now, along with Paul, a time of hardship has come so that “we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Perhaps the words of comfort we offer to our congregations and communities, our spouses and children, must be more centered on the promises and comfort of God. God IS with you! He IS risen! We ARE the children of God. Hallelujah!

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