Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How far is comfort?

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4, ESV)

Jesus said these words to speak truths about how God wants to enter people's lives in a way that radically changes everything. This verse by itself looks empty, but in the context of the entire message, Jesus is describing a God who is concerned with suffering in the world: who promises to do something about it. But when you're suffering - when your heart is wrenched and your eyes are full of tears -- when you don't see how you're going to make it through the pain you're suffering today, how far away is that comfort?

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1, Matthew 27:46) Jesus himself cried out these words -- the same person who declared boldly these promises from God. What does this say about Jesus? Was he just another spiritual leader with empty promises?

"O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest" (Psalm 22:2). Suffering, despair, hopelessness. This is the human condition we live in. Many of us are sitting on the floor with our face in our hands, crying out, reaching out for someone -- anyone -- who would listen. Anyone who cares. Anyone that understands what this pain is like. But the irony is that despite our isolation, there are so many others around us who do understand. But they also feel alienated by their pain -- shame from their despair. Can anyone really help you when you're hurting?

You've heard it many times. God can help. Just turn to God, "Cast all your anxiety on him, for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). But if he cares so much, why doesn't he do something about it right now? Where is this comfort that was promised to you? How long must you wait?

I don't have a good answer for these questions. I don't think anyone honestly has a good answer to this problem of suffering. All I can say for certain is that I've seen what God has been capable of doing in the past -- in my own life. And this is what helps me to carry on.

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