Bible Study Series
Contemplating the Almighty
The Divine Comfort
How well do you know God’s comfort?
1) God’s omniscience and comfort
a) have nothing to do with each otherng to do with each other
b) interact in that because God knows everything He can heal the deepest pain
c) means that we must know everything about God before we can experience His comfort
2) To experience God’s comfort we need to
a) draw near to God
b) feel sorry for ourselves so that God will feel sorry for us
c) seek all of the escapes that the world has to offer since if it helps then it must be from God
3) God’s remedy for anxiety is
a) prayer and thanksgiving
b) trying to simply not think about it
c) convincing ourselves how strong we are
4) God views our weaknesses as
a) sins that need to be repented of
b) opportunities to show other people what not to do
c) opportunities to show His power and grace
5) One of affliction’s greatest benefits is that it
a) should deepen our trust in God as we turn to Him
b) makes us stronger and more self-dependent
c) provides a target for other peoples’ attention and resources
6) Oftentimes we do not experience God’s comfort because
a) we are looking to other means of relief such as money, pity, food, or drugs
b) He really does not want to comfort us but is glad to see us suffer
c) We must first suffer to a certain degree before we deserve to be comforted
7) When it comes to miserable circumstances we are
a) pawns of fate trapped by our lot in life
b) victims of chance
c) watched over and cared for by God
8) Part of God’s comfort is always
a) explaining the “why” of a bad situation
b) providing His promises and presence
c) making the bad situation go away
9) God comforts us
a) only directly with His presence
b) through His direct presence, through other people, with His promises in the Bible, and with circumstances
c) only with material or circumstantial things
10) When someone else is suffering we should
a) only pray for them and let God comfort them
b) pray for them and comfort them with the comfort that God c) call their pastor so that he can handle the situation
We may not fully grasp the personal application of the divine omniscience nor even His omnipresence. We may not fully understand His necessary infinitude, but no heart or mind falls short in seeing the need for the abundant comfort which God so readily provides. No one is a stranger to pain and affliction. The “God of all comfort” is a hope and a security no one can ill neglect. There is no greater relief of pain, no better solution for troubles than that available from God.
The omniscience of God necessitates that He know our lives both to the deepest and most minute detail of all that we shall ever experience. Because of this, He is able to understand fully what we are going through and how much we hurt. When difficulties come, sincere friends may apprehend the situation somewhat, but they could never understand deep down what really hurts. Consequently, they cannot take away the pain, and they cannot fill that void. But God does understand and He knows no only the pain but, moreover, He knows the perfect solution. There is never any pain too deep or too complex which God cannot heal. He can reach down and fill that void. His arm is not too short to save; it is certainly not too short to heal. The affliction of adversity, the pain of suffering, the despair of trials all summon what the human heart needs the most: the comfort and nearness of God. What fear produces, the perfect love of God can quench. We can always turn our weary and lonely eyes to the Lord and find a friend. We just need to allow ourselves to be filled up with the satisfaction of God.the satisfaction of God.
Amazingly, when trials come, we quickly tend to seek refreshment from a dry and weary land when only the presence of the Lord can bring refreshment. The thirsty soul can find no greater satisfaction than in that of its God. The best the world can offer is escape; the best God does offer is Himself. The world scorns weakness; the Lord uses it. The world encourages us to dwell on our misery; the Lord tells us to meditate on His greatness. We love self pity; God desires self denial. Affliction and suffering make a demand of our attention. The human tendency is to concentrate it on ourselves; the scriptural command is to draw it to God. The issue lies not in finding God, but in seeking Him. The scriptures promise: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Perhaps the biggest hindrance to knowing deeper the precious intimacy of the Lord is our own selfishness and self-pity. We will never focus on God until we take our eyes off ourselves. In this lies the key to experiencing the precious comfort of the Lord.
The human heart is readily troubled. Conflict can stir up our emotions and weary us. We can easily have an endless list of fears and anxieties. We are a people who tend to put far too much confidence in the uncertainty of the flesh and the world. The Lord is aware of our weaknesses and rather than despise us, He has made efficacious provision. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” He who has overcome the world has promised us strength and courage. Anxiety is simply a polite word for fear. It finds its source in the flesh. The Psalmist said, “I am full of anxiety because of my sin.” To fear men more than God will generate nervousness and apprehension in our lives. Therefore, the scriptures say, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” A venerable “fear of God” and a realization of His concern and nearness should prove sufficient to calm my heart.
The spiritual perspective is in many ways tremendously different from that natural world’s. What the eye of man despises, the divine eye appraises as good. Thus, much despair results from not recognizing the divine comprehension. An example of this is what we term as weaknesses. Our frailty is not a cause of scorn from God, but because He knows our weakness, He has compassion. It is, indeed, our very impotence which draws forth the kindness and strength of God. How often we are tempted to think of our weaknesses as reason for the Lord to despise us, to shun us. We take the attitude that because we fail, we must stand alone and overcome or be overcome. We are driven by some prideful compulsion to prove ourselves to others, to ourselves and to God. Because we judge on the basis of outward appearance, we assume that God does also. Yet it was the lepers, the paralyzed, and the dead whom Christ touched. The scriptures say, “For power is perfected in weakness.” What we regard as a hindrance, God may see as a vehicle to manifest His great and magnificent glory.
Perhaps one of the greatest beneficial results of affliction is the building of a heart of trust for the One who created the heavens and the earth. Our nature is one that prefers to trust in only that which it sees. We will sooner put our confidence in the flesh than in the Almighty. We, for the most part, favor secure and predictable situations. Difficulties, however, will tend to drive us into desperate actions. Worldly hopes can be quickly and easily exhausted. Thus, we must avail ourselves of that which remains-faith, a faith always sufficient to trust in God. Though it may not be large enough to move mountains, it is, nevertheless, always great enough to trust God and God does not disappoint. The subsequent divine fulfillment may not be what we expected, but his being the case, we can always be confident of the fact-then it is better. Only in the security of God is there valid hope. Believing this can only result in a freshness of spirit. To have the wholehearted support of Jehovah God should be a tremendous hope to anyone. What causes bitterness in the doubter builds trust in the believer.
There is a great need in everyone’s life to know God intimately and personally. We were created not with an intrinsic self-sufficiency, but with a necessity of dependence on others, particularly God. But man, in his folly, will turn to anything he can to meet that need other than to his Creator. God created us in such a way that only through union with Him can we be made complete. Truly, there are very many needs in our lives that we can be filled apart from a relationship with God, but completeness consists not in having a great many possessions, but in having no obligations. Only those who are sick need a physician; only those who see their need seek God. Perhaps the best way He convinces us of this, as Psalm 107 so emphatically demonstrates, is through affliction. This thought is also expressed in Hosea 4:15, “In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Our greatest comfort is the presence of God. Our greatest motivation, oftentimes, is hurt.
The scriptures abound with promises to the afflicted. In Psalm 34:18, we read, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” Psalm 40:17 says, “Since I am afflicted and needy, the Lord is mindful of me; Thou art my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah 57:15, “’I dwell on a high and holy place and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the heart of the contrite.’” Jeremiah 17:14, “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise.” What must grip our hearts is that these are not abstract principles but concrete promises confirmed by none less than the supreme God. Truly if God is for us, who can be against us? What man has lack who has God?
The greatest comfort God gives is a greater revelation and experience of Himself. Asaph vividly learned this through his afflictions and difficulties. In Psalm 73, we read, “When my heart was embittered, and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before Thee. Nevertheless, I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right had. With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing in earth. My flesh and my heart may fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from Three will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Thy works.” Asaph experienced the comfort of God, not by receiving “things” from God, but by realizing His nearness. Too often, we look for the blessings of God to the exclusion of looking for God. Divine comfort comes not by what God gives, but in who God is. In affliction, God has promised us nothing but Himself. The only relief or hope we can expect of any adverse situation is the friendship of the Lord. Of course, He can and very often does relieve the adversity and affliction in many way, but if we find the pain to be not yet consoled, then perhaps we have neglected the greatest comfort and relief God has given-that of His own nearness.
Reading through the first two chapters of the book of Job, one cannot help but be impressed with how deeply Job seemed to understand God’s character. He was extremely afflicted losing practically everything, yet after both instances of testing, God boasts that “in all this Job did no sin.” What man, after suffering much loss, can say, “Naked I cam from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”? The attitude he had was one of confidence in the Lord, of trusting His plans and desires. Job was secure in the greatness of God. He would have probably echoed David’s conclusion in Psalm 145:17, “The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kin in all His deeds.” When originating in God, both good and adversity come from the same heart. Both are kind, both are filled with love, both are given to make us happier. And though God does know the distinction in how they affect us, that distinction result more from our perceptions then from God. Good comes because we can humbly receive it; adversity comes to prepare us for the good, but both are saturated with the same kindness, the same care, the same love. Through the pain, through the hurt, there stands God ever near, ever ready to heal.
Though as righteous as Job was, at the time of his great affliction, his relationship with God was still primarily that of only knowledge. He feared God, served Him and obeyed His commandments, but his experience of the Almighty lacked the profound richness which the Lord so much desires. But as the result of much affliction, Job passed into a deeper intimacy with God through which his triumphant declaration was, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee.” Affliction opens up the door for the spirit to behold the presence of God. It draws a person from knowing the acts of God to knowing His ways. It gives stubborn man an excuse to finally desire and acknowledge his need for God. It causes a person to see not the tragedy of the situation, but, as Stephen proclaimed, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Job 33:13 states, “Why do you complain against Him, that He does not give an account of all His doings?” We have no basis to object if God does not inform us of His intentions. He is under no obligation or promise to tell us of His ways. Understanding makes a situation easier but when there is no understand, then it becomes more necessary to place our confidence in the One who controls the situation. We must realize that circumstances do not randomly work together. We are not pawns of fate nor victims of chance. To believe that we are can leave us feeling overwhelmingly helpless. What security can we have believing this? But because God reigns and because He cares, this is not true. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” In this lies a great key to contentment. We will always be tossed by the storms until we climb upon the Rock. Godly character and attitudes will never be attained apart from God. Even if we do not understand a situation per se, knowing God will cause an understanding which goes much deeper and is more extensive in its application. The wicked want God to give them gain; the righteous see that their gain is God. If we do not understand the “why,” then it becomes more necessary to understand the “Who.” Understanding the mere “why” of a particular situation is limited in its extension of application to the next situation, but understanding God is unlimited in its application because it extends to all situations. “I, even I, am He who comforts you.”
There is One who was the most abandoned, the most abused, the most hated. He suffered more than all and was crushed by His Father. He was tempted by Satan in all things yet knew no sin Himself. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hid their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our grief He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” This is the One who understands. It is He who has compassion; He who will not forget us. The Man of sorrows has become the God To experience the comfort and compassion of God should not bring disdain to our hearts because of our weakness but should cause us to bow low before God because of His greatness. A realization of how much God desires to comfort us in our pain should cause us to worship Him and not to blame Him for the affliction, but to be in awe of Him for His commitment, His control, His concern. We will only blame God when we are not seeking Him and when we do not understand Him. Indeed, the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. The more we believe this, the more we will worship. “So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshipped.” Even in the most difficult of times, He is worthy to receive all glory and honor and praise.
What does God’s comfort mean to us?
We can comfort others
Second Corinthians 1:4 tells us that it is God, “who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” God can comfort us in many ways: through the Bible, with other people, with healing, with peace and hope, or by changing the situation. When we see someone else in pain we can take our experience of God’s comfort and give it to them. We can share verses that meant a lot to us. We can be available to listen or just quietly be with them. We can pray with them. We can help them work out the situation. We knew pain and then we knew how wonderful God’s comfort can be. Our response then should be to share God’s with comfort with others.
Our pain is fully understood
Many times the greatest agony of a painful situation is thinking that no one understands or cares. And perhaps that is true except in one case: God always fully understands our hurt and our pain.
God knows our pain because He knows our every thought, intention, and emotion. intention, and emotion.
God knows our pain because He experienced much of it Himself while walking on the Earth. He was betrayed, abandoned, misunderstood, mocked, and doubted. He was called demon possessed, a liar, a fraud, and a lunatic. He was beaten, stabbed, whipped, and finally murdered.
God knows our pain because on the cross He suffered the full wrath of the Father for each and every sin ever committed by We can sit in quietude and tell God about why we hurt so badly and though we will not hear an audible voice in return we can still be assured that He hears, cares, and understands.
We have hope
There are two ways that God can relieve our pain. One is by removing or diminishing it here. The other is ultimate and complete relief in Heaven. We may not always experience the first but for someone who is born-again the second is an absolute guarantee.
Answers to quiz
2) a 1) b
You oversee the “Mercy Ministry” which responsibilities include hospital visits, encouraging the discouraged and fainthearted, going to the homes of the incapacitated and helping out, and listening to those who need support. Todd is someone who views emotions as a weakness and whose response to everything is to either repent or to “just do something about it.” Inexplicably, he just joined your ministry. You are concerned that he will be overbearing and overwhelm those who are tottering, but you do not want to discourage his desire to serve. So you take him aside to give him some examples of situations where people might need comfort, encouragement, and support and what you would do for them and say to them. What might you say?
1) In addition to the ones discussed above, what are some other assurances that God’s comfort means to us?o;s comfort means to us?
2) Why do we find it easy to blame God for difficult circumstances?
3) God does not physically hug us or whisper audible words of encourage in our ears. So what are some ways that we can actually experience the comfort of God?
4) What are some ways that we can comfort others?
5) Why is it that sometimes when we are in the lowest point of a trial that we do not seem to feel the comfort of God at all?
6) How do our own afflictions enable us to better comfort other people?
7) In the Bible, what are ways in which God comforted some people?
8) Why is God so perfectly able to comfort us?
9) If someone is in a tough situation that is entirely their own doing then when should we offer them comfort and when should we admonish them? Feel free to compose your own example of such a situation and how you would respond to it.
10) What are some ways of how we might willfully or unconsciously refuse God’s comfort?
Copyright Bob La Forge 2011 email: firstname.lastname@example.org