Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:1, 2 and 11)
The Scripture reveals that there is a war where there is life, flesh and against Spirit, Spirit against flesh, the terms of peace cannot be implemented. The flesh sets itself against the Spirit, and the Spirit can never submit to the selfish and unbelieving nature of the flesh. The Spirit knows that God is Sovereign and good and for us!
Paul said it for us all, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who will set me free the body of this death??” (Romans 7:24). Even when our misery comes through the aegis of others, it is our unbelief and enmity with God that will not consent to be loved by Him when others fail us.
The Comforter has accomplished what counsel and intelligence and strength could not: Jesus was made to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him Who is without sin. The most mysterious and bewildering exchange in all of human history is simple and essential in Christ: when we believe the truth concerning our fallen nature, our tendency toward sin and unbelief and self-exaltation, we may have the remedy, which is Christ Himself. Having Him, there is no more unbelief, there is nothing stiff-necked in taking the Father at His Word and taking His Son to be our life, with a new heart by His Spirit, freely given.
This is not, “a cookie when we get home” comfort. It isn’t, “You’ll feel better in the morning.” This is life from death, light from darkness, the Presence of God rather than the ravages of Abaddon. This is Comfort that is life, to us; once we were dead, and now we are alive to God in Christ. Every Word He speaks, even His rebukes, comfort our souls, for He is Near and will not depart, and in Him is life and Love that never fails or comes to an end.
Father God, delightful, loving, generous God, how determined you are that we should know the depths of Your love, and how determined we are to find our comfort and our joy in you, all other joys in abundance! Others may disappoint us, and our flesh will always shut You out, but You have made our warfare not to be with flesh and blood, not even our own! Now we fight a good fight! Difficulties arise, but they never revoke anything that You Are. Oh, comfort us today! In keeping with Your nature, Comfort us beyond all despair and loss and fear and failure, our own and others’, comfort us in Your bosom today and every day, Shepherd of Israel!
Van Gogh – Trauender Alter Mann, 1890
Wiki Commons, by permission