|Posted on October 3, 2019 at 10:25 AM|
Living is a fallen world in sin-cursed bodies that are also growing old and falling apart none of us can avoid suffering. Whether it be a simple inconvenience or a major problem in our lives no one is exempt from some kind trial that causes us pain. Despite our best efforts to avoid pain or at least anesthetize the hurt when we do suffer, all of us need the comfort promised by Jesus when he left his disciples in this world and ascended back into heaven.
For those who believed on him and followed his ministry on this earth they were shocked beyond belief when he announced he was leaving them. They had high expectations of reigning with him as he set up his kingdom on earth. They looked past potential conflict to a time they would enjoy all the comforts of living with the king as he ruled all of Israel and the world. Suddenly their hopes were dashed to pieces when he not only said he was leaving them but also commanded them to stay behind and love one another. No one was more in need of comfort than these confused disciples.
In that context Jesus promised the comfort we all need when he said he would not leave them like orphans but would send them another of the same kind of comforter he had been for them. He was referring to the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, whom he called the Comforter. That is the same Spirit who lives in the new person God has made every believer to be in Christ. The fact that Jesus called him the Comforter suggests that his primary job in our lives is to comfort us in all our suffering. This he does by leading us, teaching us, guiding us into all truth, reminding us who we are, and making Jesus real to us.
Because our comfort in any suffering comes from the work of the indwelling Spirit of God it is totally independent of our circumstances in life and our own efforts to change them. We need not look outside ourselves for comfort, but rather within our own experience of suffering. The moment we enter any kind of suffering the Spirit within begins to intercede for us according to the will of God, which is to work all things, even our trial, together for our good. Our comfort is found in the inward peace that surpasses our understanding, the unspeakable joy or inward contentment, and the overflowing love we experience.
It’s easy to miss this kind of comfort when we are focused only on our circumstances or our own efforts to mitigate our suffering. Our natural tendencies to blame ourselves, others, or even God for our suffering can overshadow the comfort he is producing within. Our futile efforts to change the past or control the future will only add to the frustration we feel and hide the comfort of the Spirit within. Choosing to believe the promise of comfort in the midst of our suffering is what gives us the hope we need to not only endure, but to love like Jesus. It is our willingness to trust the Father in the middle of our trial that allows us to experience his supernatural comfort.