By Charles F. Stanley
When I was a little boy, I sustained my share of scraped knees and stubbed toes. After my mother had evaluated the seriousness of each injury, she would bring a bottle of medicine, which I hated. When the cut was deep enough, my mother would apply iodine, which stung like crazy. No matter how much I begged for her not to, she knew best. My crying did not acknowledge her wisdom.
After the tiny applicator was rubbed on my wound—and while I was still loudly protesting—my mother did a wonderful thing. I can still picture it. She would gently blow on the stinging spot. My cries subsided as she soothed my body and, most of all, my heart.
This is perhaps one of the sweetest pictures to me of the God of all comfort. He, by the Holy Spirit, breathes comfort into the scrapes and wounds of life. The deeper the hurt, the more gentle the blowing.
My mother didn’t prevent the pain, though she tried to warn me to be careful. Hurts are a part of a little boy’s life.
Hurts are a part of a believer’s life as well.
Comfort is found not in the absence of pain but in the midst of it. So many hurting Christians believe their walk with the Lord is not as it should be because of their intense pain. They don’t feel comfortable. Yet feeling comfortable and being comforted are two different things. The first is a nice feeling but tends to come and go, as feelings do. The second is a fact based on the Comforter, not on circumstances—and He does not come and go: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
Those who have suffered with pain know that it gets tiring after a while. The weary saint cries out with Paul to remove the thorn (2 Cor. 12:7-8). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself prayed for His cup of suffering to be removed. He was so physically and emotionally weary that an angel was sent to strengthen Him (Luke 22:42-43).
Often, however, the child of God hears nothing from heaven. These are particularly difficult times, especially if the agony has persisted. And it is precisely at these times the Comforter is the most precious: the Shepherd in the valley; the Father to His child; the Rock of ages; the Shelter in time of storm.
Peace is not the absence of pain. We wouldn’t be promised a Comforter—much less need One—if the Christian life was a life of unending bliss.
The Comforter soothes in various ways—through Scripture, through hymns, through other saints (who have probably been hurt), or through myriad ways that that He custom designs to suit particular hurts. He is wonderfully creative, perfectly matching the comfort with the sorrow.
We have this assurance: “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). This side of His comfort indicates His tenderness and gentleness, just as my mother cared for my hurts. As a comforting Father, He gives strength to go on in the midst of pain. As the perfect Parent, He knows exactly how to balance the two.
Here’s the most wonderful thing: As God blows gently on the stinging wound, He remains close to His child. One can almost hear Him saying, “My hurting child, you are so special to Me. I hurt with you. I’m staying right here to take good care of you.” The Father’s tender care can be summed up by the slogan of a billboard that was advertising a local hospital: “The most critical moments demand exceptional care.”
“Blessed be the God . . . of all comfort, 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” (2 Cor. 1:3–4).
We understand that although suffering is not eradicated, we have Someone who soothes us in the midst of it. Often we cry for even temporary pain relief, but the God of all comfort gives permanent consolation in the midst of excruciating pain. In our text, Paul makes it clear that the comfort from God is not only for our benefit but also for sharing with other hurting people.
Adapted from “Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living” (2008).
This past Sunday I was afforded the amazing opportunity to speak to our church congregation about “Why Bad Things Happen”. This was a very timely sermon as many within our church have been going through trials and tribulations of their own. Even I have been struggling through finding full time work after being laid off recently.
Today my wife Karla and I found out that our Daughter, Jamie, has some health issues with her heart. It is not anything extremely bad, but still she is only 19 years old and a single mother. I have been cast into the seat of spiritual mentor for both of them now. My wife was very upset, as she should be. My daughter was trying to play it off as nothing while also asking me if I had added her to the prayer list.
All of us face adversity in different ways. Personally, I choose to face mine in a very public way. This helps me to speak and think out loud, and, keeps me on the path of faithfulness. Others choose to face their problems privately. If they don’t give in to worry and concern that is fine. But I feel like God wants us to share our burdens. That is why we are called to pray and confess. God alleviates so much from our hearts when we give it all up to him. Not matter what happens in the end we can be comforted by the knowledge of his grace and promise of eternal life in heaven.