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According to Us

One Husband, One Wife, Five Children and Everything in Between

cancer.

death.

sickness.

loss.

This last week has been one of those weeks. My husband’s co-worker found out that his wife’s illness is terminal. My friend’s father passed away. There was a sudden death in our community that shook almost every person who even only “knew” the young man who died.

And that was only this past week.

It is no doubt that we are in desperate need of comfort and assurance that things will. be. okay…

I ran to the one thing that has been a rock, a firm foundation in my own life.

COMFORT, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to {them}.” Isaiah 40:1-2

This passage is one of those very familiar to most people. Well, the end of the passage, anyway. That’s kind of ironic, I think, that we always want to rush to the end where comfort is “found”, but I believe it’s the journey to the end that comfort is realized and lived.

As I was praying over the loved ones mentioned above, struggling with my own need to be comforted, I fell upon a realization in comfort that I had never seen before. One of my favorite tools in my Bible are not the study notes, or word studies, but the “center column references”. This tool points to different passages that use the same word in a particular verse. As I was looking up other references to the verse about and it’s use of “comfort” I came across this…

Isaiah 12:1

In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, Lord.
Although you were angry with me,
your anger has turned away
and you have comforted me.

Isaiah 49:13

Shout for joy, you heavens;
rejoice, you earth;
burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

Isaiah 51:3,12
The Lord will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you.
Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
human beings who are but grass,

Isaiah 52:9,

Burst into songs of joy together,
you ruins of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.

 Isaiah 57:18

I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,

Isaiah 61:2

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah 31:13

Then young women will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into gladness;
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.

Did you see it? At first I didn’t either. I had never connected  comfort to a burdened, broken heart and the need of compassion. So what is compassion, then?

Compassion is being moved, motivated by love, to action. Compassion has many faces. It can be stepping up in place for those that are weaker. It bears the face of a hero, who risks life to save another. Compassion never sits back and watches others suffer. When something terrible or tragic happens, you are moved in your gut to action- that is compassion. It has gentle hands. Eyes full of tears. Compassion is sensitive. It doesn’t have to have answers, and it isn’t nosey. Perhaps compassion doesn’t have a “goal” except to do something… anything to help. Really help.

In these verses, Israel had been punished, exiled for their idolatry. I think it is imperative to note that not all suffering and loss is a result of sin. If someone is ill, dies, looses a job, gets hurt, it does not mean that person deserved punishment for a lifestyle choice. The fact of life is that we all suffer. We ALL need comfort. We all need compassion.

The night I heard of the young man, I opened my Bible and it fell open to this next passage below. I don’t recommend this as a normal way to hear from God, but it happened this way none the less. This was also one of the passages that I found referenced in the margin. Although it doesn’t mention comfort directly, it explains how we can be comforted. It doesn’t come by chance or knowing the right things.

Zephaniah 3:14-17

14 Sing, Daughter Zion;
shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
Daughter Jerusalem!
15 The Lord has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.
16 On that day
they will say to Jerusalem,
“Do not fear, Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

We are comforted by compassion. Compassion found in others around us, but also in the love of God. When that comfort comes, it leads to healing. Look over the passages above again. In almost every one of them you have comfort with compassion, comfort and healing, or comfort and rejoicing. {or a combination of all three}

There was one last passage that was referenced. When I read it, I just knew….I knew this was what was being spoken to my heart.

Comfort that is followed with compassion leads to healing.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfortHe comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

As I first mentioned Isaiah 40 is well-known for the way it ends. Everyone wants to soar like the eagles. We need to run and not grow weary. We want strength to be renewed. We need all of those things, especially when we are weak and weary. Those things are promised for those who hope in the Lord. I know from my own experience that hope begins in comfort.

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