The God Of All Comfort

The God Of All Comfort

This past Friday, Good Friday as it is called, a very important person in my life went to be with the Lord. Ray was in his late 40s (maybe early 50s) when Lori and I started in full-time ministry in 1984. He and his wife, Helen, were extremely gracious, kind, and generous to us as we ministered in that church, twice. The first time was for almost three years as an Assistant Pastor. The second time was about eight years later when we went back to the same church as lead pastor for almost eight years. Lori and I would say, from time to time, “When we get older, we want to be like Ray and Helen.” Ray and Helen came to every one of our three kids’ weddings, even though by then we’d been gone from that church for nine and eleven years, respectively. Ray took care of Helen as a progressively degenerative disease took her mind and then control of her physical body. He carried Helen to where she needed to go even into his 80’s. Ray demonstrated the unwavering love of a husband for his wife in caring for Helen, at home, till the day she entered eternity. Having four daughters, Ray was an example of a father who loved and cared for his children and grandchildren — and they cared for him! Ray was not a perfect man, but he was a very good man!  Lori and I went to see Ray while we were in Minnesota to visit family this past Christmas. He had moved from the town he was born in and after military service, college, dental school, and where he had lived for the past 60+ years to about 10 minutes away from our youngest daughter and family. Even though the effects of aging were apparent, physically, he was the same Ray — gracious, kind, and generous! We had a lovely visit — one of his married granddaughters and her husband stopped by to make sure Ray was ok — and we had a great prayer time at the end. I didn’t know if that was the last time I would see Ray on this earth, but I remember walking out of the assisted living complex thinking if it was, it was good and fitting and a great way to end seeing each other on this earth.

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes, “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.” These verses and the ones that follow oftentimes are used at funerals and memorial services to comfort those who have come to mourn and celebrate the person who died. As the texts and phone calls came letting us know Ray had gone home to be with the Lord, the juxtaposition of Ray’s death and celebrating Christ’s death and resurrection reminded me that the comfort of the Lord is not just for times of sorrow at the death of a dear friend, but also for life every day! How great it is to know that, yes, the comfort of the Lord is available to us in times of sorrow and suffering, but, because of Christ’s supreme victory at the cross and being raised from the grave, Satan, sin and death have been vanquished. The comfort of the Lord can be known, not just at death, but throughout this life!  We don’t have to wonder “How does it end?” The empty tomb reminds us that in the end the Christ-follower is ushered into the full and complete presence of the Lord!  

In this context, I have reflected these days on I Corinthians 13:12 where Paul writes, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” For the Christ-follower, we don’t see everything as the Lord does. We don’t know everything, as the Lord does. That’s our reality right now. Yet one day we will see the Lord face to face! One day we will know everything! But did you catch that last part — “now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” TODAY, we may not know it all, BUT we are fully known to the Lord already!!  How comforting is that!  

When I am grieving — the Lord already knows!  

When I am discouraged — the Lord already knows!  

When I am perplexed — the Lord already knows!  

When I am burdened down with cares, concerns, and questions — the Lord already knows!  

When my soul needs comfort — the Lord already knows!  

When life is going well — the Lord already knows!  

When things seem to be going in the right direction — the Lord already knows!  

When my heart is full and my soul rejoices — the Lord already knows!

When I am happy for others in their times of blessing — the Lord already knows!

When I need wisdom — the Lord already knows!

Friends, the comfort of the Lord is for so much more than just when a close friend or relative dies. The comfort of the Lord is available to us all the time. May we be reminded of that in these days and may we engage the comfort of the Lord when things are good and when things are challenging!