“… for they will be comforted.” Mt 5:4b
It is God’s nature to comfort.
“Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering.” (Isaiah 49:13)
In John 16:7 Jesus says he will send the Paraclete – meaning Comforter, Advocate, Encourager or Counselor – referring to the Holy Spirit, living in us. At any time, Comfort can break in and soothe us because Comfort is the companion of mourning, grief and suffering.
“your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” (Ps 94:19b)
“’Comfort, comfort my people’, says our God. ‘Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.’” (Isaiah 40:1-2a)
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to being good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.” (Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18)
According to 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, God is the source of all comfort, present in all our troubles, partly to give us the experience of comfort so we can then comfort others. But to receive comfort, we need to be in a place where it’s needed – in suffering, loss, trouble, grief, mourning, even discouragement.
The word Paraclete is used in John 14:16, 26-27. Translated here as Advocate, it is associated with peace, a cousin of comfort:
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you…. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
When Connie and I were in member care ministry, our supervisor, Dr. Karen Carr, introduced the idea that grief is a spiritual discipline. This beatitude supports that concept. When we mourn, we grieve, and we are blessed because the comforter comforts us and we receive the Holy Spirit at deeper levels – where our hearts are troubled, afraid, empty and in pain. We draw near to God via the comforting Holy Spirit and we arrive at “peace of mind and heart.”
One of our ministry events in Kenya took us in 2012 to a hospice called The Living Room. Our job that day was to bring awareness to the workers of the grief they were living with constantly. They did not have the luxury of fully going through the grief/loss cycle before another death occurred. They lived with grief upon grief upon grief as they lost people in their care one by one. We encouraged self-care but knew the real source of comfort was the Holy Spirit. In this setting, grief truly was their most steady spiritual discipline. As we opened the scriptures together and studied, they found that God majors in comfort when we lean into our grief. It’s his idea to take us there, meet us there, stay with us there, for in this discipline we experience God’s comfort and peace unlike ever before.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be Comforted.”
Jesus then went on to say, “Blessed are the meek.” Is this another position of vulnerability? Some might say meek=weak. I believe it’s the opposite.
Til next week,
Thankyou Dan. Great reminder. I know a family in deep sorrow now. What a comfort to know.