Comfort, what we desperately need and yes, it is possible for us to find and receive it. What has been devastated can be transformed and made beautiful. The emptiness and desperation can become a place of joy and gladness.
The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isaiah 51: 3&11 NIV)
This is our hope. The stedfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies are new every morning. This is the only thing that gives us true hope in the midst of our suffering. As we allow ourselves to be comforted (for as long as it takes) our heart will undergo a transformation. What we felt was barren or had become like a desert will be transformed into a beautiful garden. Where there was sorrow and sadness there will be joy and gladness. There will be life which Jesus promised was life in all its fulness.
How do we receive comfort. It's different for everyone but let me give one or two suggestions. Trauma often occurs suddenly, comfort comes more slowly and gently. We feel like our life has become a wilderness, we may need to go to the wilderness for our healing: not literally, but we may need to withdraw and have time alone (that can be difficult to plan and arrange but it will be worth it). We need friends, not like Job's but those who will sit, say nothing, do nothing (well, maybe make a cake or some coffee) - who are just there for us when we need them.
Above all we need to turn our heart to the Father of all comfort who will comfort us in all our troubles. Here is a soaking video you may wish to put on and simply ask the Father to pour his comforting love into your heart. He is faithful and he will do it.
These posts have only skimmed the surface, if you would like more you can download my free booklet, "The Father's Comfort" or go to the seminars on my website where we've covered this in a lot more detail.
Comfort, the expression of love we desperately need, yet rarely talk about. We all suffer loss, it often comes unannounced, it's always significant and it affects us more deeply than we allow ourselves to acknowledge.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (Matthew 5:4 NIV/Message)
When we suffer loss we need to be able to mourn that loss. Let me try and define how I see grief and mourning. Grief is the onslaught of emotions that we face in the teeth of our loss: bereavement, immeasurable pain, anger, fear, paralysis, despair, hopelessness. These emotions (and all the others I've not mentioned) are all valid and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Mourning is our journey through the grief and our coming to terms with all these conflicting emotions. It's facing them, acknowledging that they are (very) real and then giving yourself time to walk through them. My friend, Jane Trentham, says: "allow yourself to go to the 'ouch' moment". That's not easy, it can be very painful but it's also the start of the journey that leads to healing.
It's on that journey of mourning, as we process the pain of loss and the deep experience of grief, that we are comforted. How long does it take? It takes as long as it takes and you mustn't rush, as, in your haste, you will bury your grief and it will only surface at another time (probably more forcefully and when you least expect it).
There is, however, a beautiful promise of redemption and restoration which I'll look at next week. In the meantime, once again, come to the Father and ask him to wrap you in his arms of love and comfort you.
We don't talk about it, but we should. Comfort, in one form or another, is mentioned over one hundred times in the Bible yet we rarely talk about it, let alone receive. It's important, very important. However, it's not a topic for us to learn about; it's an expression of love that we experience as it brings healing to the deepest wounds in our heart.
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1-2 NIV)
Comfort, comfort my people: what that really says to us is that we can be greatly comforted.
We all experience trauma and we experience it differently. What may be traumatic for one person may be inconsequential for another. We react differently. We may try and cope, to fight through it or pretend that the trauma never happened. Ultimately there is only one solution and that is we need to receive comfort. Trauma will always leave us empty and in despair, we feel as if we have lost hope and have nowhere to turn. In fact, Solomon writes about the desperation we feel when we are not comforted, I encourage you to read it in Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, frankly it's a tragedy.
I have come to see that every trauma has to be met with a greater level of comfort. If we don't receive more comfort than the trauma we've experienced we will be left in pain or discomfort. Our heart is like a container and trauma sits in the depth of our heart like a heavy weight. Comfort comes down the inside edges of that container, comes underneath the trauma and gradually lifts it up, ultimately being able to wash it away. That's why we need more comfort than the trauma.
Even although we don't talk about it we all need to be comforted. It is as we grieve and mourn our loss that we are comforted and that's something I'll look at next week. In the meantime, ask the Father to come and wrap you in his arms and comfort you. He will!
Maybe, over the last couple of weeks as you've read these blogs, there's been a desire for rest or to find home. You have a longing but you're not sure what to do about it or where to begin looking. If this is the case then it's time to stop!
This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. (Jeremiah 6:16 & 7:3 NIV/ESV)
Sometimes we're just too busy. We don't give ourselves time to stop and reflect, to think about what really matters. We are caught up with the urgent rather than the important. At times like this there is only one thing to do and that's 'stop'. As we do we can heed the words of Jeremiah, we stop at a crossroad and look at the various options. It's too easy to choose the obvious, clear path in front of us but Jeremiah says there is another way. It's hidden, maybe overgrown with the busy-ness of life and therefore not so easily seen.
The motorway gets you there quickly but how much beauty do you miss out on? Taking the ancient path may be slower, sometimes it may be harder but it will be the path that leads our souls into rest and peace.
It is a choice and it may need us to change our lifestyle, our commitments or priorities. As we do, Psalm 23 will become our way of life:
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)