Uncomfortable Comfort

A two part mini series on God’s comfort in the uncomfortable times of life.

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 2

The video of this message can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/IeuQ61J6Cio 

Considering practical ways to receive and amplify God’s comfort 

Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

  • David says that the comfort he received came while in the time of affliction.
  • Don’t think that comfort only comes when the affliction is gone. That’s worldly thinking.
  • The greatest struggles of life present the greatest opportunities for God’s grace in its various forms of comfort.

While there are different Hebrew words for Comfort, in Psalm 119:50, David uses neḥâmâ, h5165 = consolation, to relent or comfort. It’s from a base word, h5162 nâḥam, which means to sigh, or to breathe deeply.

  • Which is very applicable in times of distress when the believer can emotionally, spiritually, and possibly physically, take a deep breath of pause.
  • This creates the opportunity to gather our thoughts from the perspective of God’s Word. Maybe through meditation of God’s Word, possibly by reviewing life, or simply to slow down what’s happening in our minds or in the surrounding events, to wait on the Lord.
  • It’s in the spiritual deep breath of comfort that we find some ease, maybe the ability to set God back in the centre of our attention. Here, there’s a sense of well-being while the turmoil swirls around you. It’s a time when you may conclude that you have lost control, but God hasn’t. Therefore, there is hope in the LORD.

2 Questions:
How do we receive God’s available comfort.
How do we amplify God’s comfort so that comfort drowns out the loudest pains?

4 Answers:
1)  Observe your life from God’s perspective
It’s only natural, and understandable, that life’s difficulties sometimes consume us.
When feeling afflicted, one of the early things that often happens, is someone begins telling you that God has abandoned you, you are obviously unworthy of His attention, you’re on your own, or God must be evil to allow such things to happen. It may be the voices in your own heart, it may be the devil, or it could be friends. Either way, the voices of condemnation are WRONG.

  • If you are a repentant believer in Jesus Christ as Lord, and you are not presently dominated by habitual sin, listen to who you are in Christ.
  • Read God’s Word, read books that tell you clearly who God says you are in Christ.
  • Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 8:39, Nothing… in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • In Colossians 3:12, Paul addressed the believers as the elect of God, holy and beloved
  • In Ephesians 2:13-14, Paul told the believers that they have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are heavily invested.

Our confidence of acceptance by God is not found in self or in the church size or character, but in Christ.

  • Our circumstances do NOT change any of these truths.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NLT Paraphrase. It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

This is God’s commitment to every born again child of His. This is how He sees you, regardless of circumstances, regardless of how you feel about yourself, and regardless of what others tell you.

  • God knows everything about you and what’s happening in your life (Psalm 139:1-2) and He loves you regardless. So, count your blessings, name them, and talk about them.

2)  Engage & share with others – fellowship
When the going gets tough, we often just want to be alone, which is fine for short periods of time. But as creatures created in the image of God, we were designed for fellowship. God uses others to supply our needs, even though we may not want others, we need them.
Spend time with believers who weep and laugh with you, and who share their joy with you.
Spend time with those with courage and dogged determination to persevere. Be careful how much time you spend with those who continually look for a way out only.

  • Proverbs 18:1, Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

This is why the New Testament speaks of the “one anothers” so often – we need one another to receive the relational resources of God. It is through one another the relational  voice of affirmation and security is increased.

  • 2 Corinthians 13:11, Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.

It is often through one another that we realise the emotional impact of the God of love and peace being present in our lives.

This is why faithfulness is so critical to our emotional and spiritual wellbeing – God designed us to receive and amplify His love and peace through our loving and peaceful relationships with one another.

  • Paul warns us in Galatians 5:15, if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:5, For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

As we open up to one another we become able to receive and give the comforts of God. When we distance ourselves from one another, we are more likely to judge one another.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 NIV
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.
12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are  withholding yours from us.
13 As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide    your hearts also.

This is how we build a stronger community amongst ourselves. We open up to each other. This doesn’t mean you bare your soul or your deepest secrets to everyone.

  • But it does mean we all take time and make effort to pause, to attend fellowship times, to talk, to introduce ourselves, to offer help during the week, or ask for help.
  • To get into a routine of communication with your fellow church members.
  • To prioritise time together with your Christian brothers and sisters as significant time.
  • This is how we share and amplify God’s comfort in our church relationships. Be content with one another, choose not to take offense at one another.

2 Thessalonians 1:3, We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

Book Promotion: “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen.

3)  Read Scripture & Worship
This is an extension of number 1, “Observe your life from God’s perspective”

Spend time alone with God! Spend time with others, with God!

  • Psalm 119:36, Incline (Stretch out) my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
  • As we grow our understanding of God’s Word, that understanding comforts and reassures.
  • Again, worship with one another is critical for our wellbeing. Private worship only goes so far. We need to make the connection, spending time in God’s Word fuels our worship.
  • David likened his pleasure in God’s Word to that of his combined financial wealth.

In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches (Psalm 119:14, cf. 119:162).
Psalm 119:52,  When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
Psalm 119:76,   Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
Psalm 119:92 If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.

  • In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul instructs us to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. And it’s only as we know God better, and view our lives from His perspective in Christ, that we are able to do this.

4)  Serve on behalf of Christ
Serving is a powerful means of receiving, giving, and amplifying Christ’s comfort. As we serve, we act on behalf of Christ, and we see the blessing in others.

  • Galatians 5:13, For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Spiritual freedom does not mean selfish living. No, we exchange those selfish activities for ones of service done in love.
Selfless service reminds us, and others, of the “freedom” we have in Christ. And we experience that freedom through loving service. This amplifies God’s comfort within us.

Matthew 20:26-28, Jesus informed His position hungry disciples that…
…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

When we disconnect or distance ourselves from relationships and service for God, we are disconnecting from one of God’s resources for encouragement and support.

  • This is why 1 Peter 4:10 says, As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…

Mutual service administers God’s grace into each other’s lives. As we receive His grace, it is amplified through other’s service to us, affirming God’s comfort.

Review – We Receive and Amplify God’s Comfort when we:
Observe our lives from God’s perspective
Engage & share with others in fellowship
Read Scripture & Worship
Serve others on behalf of Christ

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 2 Read More »

Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 1

Job 21:34
How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.

The video of this message can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/cusxsrBbjEs

Considering the difference between God’s comfort and invalid comfort.

As we all know, Christians are not spared from the pains of life. No amount of denial or speaking it out of existence can remove the unpleasant realities we all endure at times.

While I applaud the efforts that people make in showing comfort to those who suffer, like all things though, comfort has a vulnerability. It can be false, hypocritical, and invalid.

  • Invalid comfort looks to surface issues only, to the superficial things, and to what is convenient for the giver. It doesn’t like to sacrifice self for the recipient’s benefit.
  • Therefore, it often lacks grace.
  • Invalid comfort is more concerned about how the giver feels, than how the recipient feels.
    • There’s nothing worse than empty platitudes from an insincere person when you’re struggling. Instead of encouraging and strengthening your resolve to remain steadfast, it, like quicksand, sucks you down into doubt, fear, and insecurity.
    • Whereas authentic comfort reassures, imparting a degree of calmness while in the storms of life. It conveys a layer of wellness, of acceptance, and of security of the relationship to overlay the pain being experienced.
    • In short, comfort says, “I’m here for you, and I’m not going anywhere.”

The Bible tells us of a man named Job, who suffered unimaginably.
Without warning he had his wealth, his property, his possessions, his livestock, his staff, and his children, all destroyed.
He then lost his health; being covered in weeping sores, he was cast out of town to survive on the local rubbish dump with the dogs. He was the target of ridicule, humiliation, and slanderous gossip. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his fatalistic wife suggested he “curse God and die” (2:9).

  • Now, Job had 4 would-be friends who seemed to start out being empathetic and supportive of him in this nightmare (Job 2:11-13; 32:2-5. Bildad, Zophar, Eliphaz, and Elihu).
  • But their words soon turned ugly, increasing Job’s suffering. These 4 would-be friends were imperfect sinners who lacked the grace, the patience, and the selflessness that provides the self-restraint needed for helping someone in Job’s condition.
  • At every level Job was overwhelmed by the sense of loss, of devastation, of betrayal, of hopelessness, and depression. These 4 men did nothing but accuse Job of all kinds of wrong, attempting to convince him that sin was the cause of his suffering. Therefore, this was God’s punishment.

In doing so, they crushed Job’s spirit, robbing him of what little dignity he had left. Why, because they were thinking more of themselves than of Job.
But God’s testimony of Job was that he was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).
Obviously, these 4 men had it all wrong!

On one occasion, exasperated Job, said to his friends in…
Job 21:34,    How then will you comfort me with empty nothings? There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood (h4604 = treachery).

  • Job quickly picked up on their insincerity, and the worthlessness of their words. He realised that there was betrayal and abandonment in these 4 men.
  • For comfort to be of any real value, it needs to be authentic, other-focused, and felt through the recipient’s experience.

God’s comfort is NOTHING like what those 4 men showed Job.

  • I’ve titled this 2 part series “Uncomfortable Comfort” because I want us to see that within the uncomfortable times of life, God has real and valuable comfort which He offers for us to receive.

It needs to be remembered, that God speaks as one who suffers more than any of us.

  • Shortly after creation, Adam and Eve believed the lies of God’s enemy, and they sinned, introducing death and suffering into the world. Before long, human rebellion was so rampant, that the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart (Genesis 6:6). The original word for “grieved” carries the idea of pain that carves its way into the heart.
  • Stepping forward in time, we see unfaithful Israel becoming the source of great suffering for God. They rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel (Psalm 78:40-41).
  • In the New Testament, it was Peter, as we learnt last week from Acts 2, who publicly explained Israel’s ultimate wound to God’s heart. Men of Israel…  this Jesus, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:22-23).
  • God, better than anyone, knows the deepest pains, and our need for comfort. He knows the betrayal of those who claim to be loyal to Him. He knows the heartache from disobedient children. He knows what is to be slandered, misrepresented, mocked, and blasphemed. He even knows the pain of having His only child murdered.
  • When God speaks words of comfort, He’s emotionally invested. He’s involved because He loves us and cares for us. And because He cares, He feels our pain when we hurt.
  • For believers, we know God gets it, and He understands us in our suffering!
  • This is because God exists within the sufferings of His children. To this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21). As Christ suffered well, so believers also, are equipped to follow Christ’s gracious and faithful responses in their suffering.

4 Comforts From God – which we cling to by faith
The 1st comfort is Jesus’ Cleansing Forgiveness
In the apostle John’s comparison between pretend and authentic faith, in 1 John  1:5-10, he says in verse 7… if we walk in the light, as He (God) is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

  • At the heart of our Christian relationships is a heavenly relationship founded upon Jesus’ Cross that binds believers together.
  • Therefore, believers should give evidence to the light of God being real in their lives by mutually treating each other in a way that reflects the blood of Jesus… having cleansed us all from all sin.

This is God’s forgiveness serving as the foundation of our Christian relationships.

  • Christian fellowship is to be expressive of God’s character and the sufficiency of Jesus power to cleanse us of sin. Therefore, the therapeutic benefits of church community, of fellowship, of our togetherness, inspires us to treat each other as forgiven and precious.

This is because the quality of our fellowship displays what we truly think about God.

  • Jesus’ cleansing forgiveness offers us security of acceptance by God. It offers hope for change, hope for rescue, and hope for healing from failed relationships, and the disappointment that follows.

The 2nd Comfort is God’s Sovereignty
God remains Governor of the universe regardless of our present condition or state of mind. Even our negative feelings, our lack of understanding, and our confusion over a matter, does not change God’s authoritative position in the universe or in our lives.

  • While it’s difficult to accept sometimes, nothing happens without God’s prior approval.

In Psalm 31:14-15, David accepts God’s governing of his time, of the chapters and circumstances of his life. I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand… (Administration)

  • In Job 23:8-10, he shows us his God-centred perspective on God’s invisible activity.

8   Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I   cannot discern Him;
9   When He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the   right, I cannot see Him.
10  But He (God) knows the way I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

Sanctification’s goal is to achieve precious purity.
We take comfort in our struggles, knowing that God trains us for our good, that we may share His holiness (Hebrews 12:10).

  • In Isaiah 45:7, God states, I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.
  • While we get hung up on whether God actioned something unpleasant, or just allowed it to happen, He takes ownership of it all.
  • Whether God orchestrates disaster or can only see it coming and is powerless to do anything about it, is a futile argument according to God.

This argument is never heard in heaven because everyone in heaven knows that God providentially oversees everything. The beautiful and the ugly times of life are all under His governorship.

  • In 2 Samuel 16:5-14, we read of the time when King David was running from his son Absolom, who was hunting down his Dad to kill him (2Sa 16:11).
  • When David came to a town called Bahurim, a man by the name of Shimei came out abusing and slandering while throwing stones at him.
  • Then Abishai… said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head (2 Samuel 16:9).

10 But the king said… If he is cursing because the LORD has said to  him, ‘Curse David,’ who  then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’”

  • David understood the practical implications of God’s governing rule over the events of life, over the distasteful things, including other’s bad behaviour towards us.
  • At no point is God out-of-touch with our sufferings!

The 3rd Comfort is God’s Presence
If we feel alone, that does NOT mean God is absent.
Psalm 139:7-10
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your  presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol  (Death), you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall  hold me.

Solomon says in Proverbs 15:3, the eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Absolutely nothing escapes God’s attention or presence.
Even in the traumatic times of life, when we simply fail to understand any of what’s happening, God is there with us!

Think for a moment of Jonah, the wonky prophet for rent. God had to place him in a fish’s belly for 3 days and nights (Jon 1:17) before he would obey.

  • Jonah 2:1 records that Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish…
  • Not receiving a reply from God, Jonah ends his session of prayer with this…

I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the LORD!” (Jonah 2:9). Expecting death, he worships God and offers obedience should his life be spared.

  • Finally, God responds to Jonah. And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land (Jonah 2:10).

The fish heard God’s voice, not Jonah. Yet, he did experience the result of God’s response.

  • Jonah was never alone, never unheard by God, and never abandoned, despite how he may have felt during that time.

Even in times of bad decisions, or worse, in times of our disobedience,  God remains present. He is the invisible and silent attendant, our constant companion.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 It is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The 4th Comfort is Heavenly Intercession
Although we don’t get to see or hear this heavenly activity, God assures us that it’s active, and the results are very real.

Holy Spirit Intercession
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Christ’s Intercession
In Romans 8:33, Paul asks, then answers an important question, Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Do not live in fear of peoples’ condemning words against you! Rejoice that it is God who justifies you. While others condemn you, God declares you innocent in Christ. Yes, there may be the need for greater obedience, but God does NOT write you off.

Romans 8:34   Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

The Father Keeps us in His Love
Romans 8:38-39 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Summary – 4 Comforts From God
The 1st comfort is Jesus’ Cleansing Forgiveness
The 2nd Comfort is God’s Sovereignty
The 3rd Comfort is God’s Presence
The 4th Comfort is Heavenly Intercession
In these comforts we walk by faith in God.



Uncomfortable Comfort – Part 1 Read More »

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