Monday, March 07, 2011
Today’s Topic: Man’s Greatest Comfort
Today’s Text: Isaiah 40:1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
What does it take to make you feel comfortable? I’m not talking about your pillow-top bed or your LazyBoy recliner. I’m not referring to the temperature outside or inside. What is it that makes you feel comforted when all around you life is a mess? Where do you find your peace of mind when there is nothing but war around you – the war of words from people and the war of the worlds from an economic and political perspective as well as in the spiritual realm?
The reason we may not feel as comforted as we should is that we are so shallow. We are really in denial of how much our sinful nature continues to dominate our thinking and dictate our attitudes. We say we are people of faith and trust, but in what have we truly placed our faith? We may think we have placed it in God, but I suspect that most of us have misplaced our faith in the knowledge of God’s activity rather than in the knowledge of His character and nature.
If our faith is placed in the knowledge of God’s activity and plan for our lives, then we will never find true comfort in the storms of life. Our faith must be completely in the nature of God and His character, regardless of how much information he provides about His specific plans for our situation.
Many years ago I was in a 24 foot boat with outriggers crossing a five mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean in the Philippines. We were on our way home from an island where we had dedicated a new church. The wind was strong, blowing right down the straights. The waves were bigger than anything I had ever experienced. There was one question on my mind. I did not care how far it was to the shore. I did not care what direction we were traveling. I did not care how long it was going to take to get out of the waves. The only thing I cared about was whether or not the boat was strong enough to carry us through. The nature and character of the boat mattered more than anything else.
John Hannah,, writing in Preaching Today, tells this story:
My wife returned from a gynecologist’s appointment some years ago to say, “In my routine checkup today the doctor discovered a lump.” I knew what that could mean. At the time we had a four-year-old and a two-year-old. I said to myself, “How will I ever raise my daughters alone?” For six months I thought that, trying to be brave.
I would put my wife to bed and then go out into the living room and turn off the lights. In the darkness, with my Bible in my hand, I discovered the greatest comfort that can be given any man: not knowing that everything will be all right, but knowing that everything is under control.
What comforted me was not the answers—there were none—but the character of God. I realized that God cared for me. He cares for the mountain goats, and he cares for me. I found out that this world is not chaotic. He controls the behemoth and the leviathan. He is infinite God, and I am finite man.
So I could go to bed and rest, not in my knowledge, but in confidence in the character of God. He is good. He is infinite. He is full of mercy.
Comfort comes from rightly placed faith. Make sure your faith is not wrongly placed in human understanding of God’s plan, but in the knowledge of Who God is. That is the key to comfort.