God declares Himself to be the God of all comfort. For a believer that is not a startling & new revelation, but there are certain traits we all have, where we can deny the reality of that.
One way in which we can easily test ourselves, as to whether we are living in denial of this, is to pick up on the little phrase of the Apostle – in V.4 – that we may be able to comfort those… with the comfort that we ourselves are comforted by God.” You only ask yourself, where is the reality of that? When was the last time you sat down with someone who was troubled, and counselled them with the reality of the comfort you received from God?
Let me give you an example from the latest Crossover Magazine – a few copies available…! (Refer Back Page).
This is the confirmation that these words have power with us – Our effectiveness to witness to others, and become a channel of blessing directly impinges on how connected we are with God, and our experience of His comfort in our lives. Paul speaks of this comfort as an overflowing treasure…!
For our own sakes, and for others whom God brings our way, we want to examine these hindrances. We had some warmer weather this last week, and when the sun shines brightly after it has been cold and damp, we had some mornings of damp fogs from the earth, and they often obscure the lustre of the morning sun. When a lamp is lit, the brighter it shines, the more the insects that gather round it. And so the brighter any truth of God, the more does Satan endeavour to gather about it such mists as will obscure it, if indeed he cannot extinguish it altogether.
And so this teaching, that God is the God of all comfort, is so powerful and effective, we may expect to find that there are many hindrances to a full belief that it applies to us. We touched on this last week, but I would like to open it up in a little more detail. I pray I may be a means of helping us remove them. But before we can remove -these hindrances, we must see them.
How very undeserving we are of comfort at all; and especially of such a One as God taking it in hand to comfort us. I hope we can all see there is no shadow of a doubt that we are unworthy. It is quite right that we should so. In fact, it is a ver good place to start. It is actually a blessing to feel unworthy, and if you do not have it, ‘we would be foolish to take this any further. Because God will not have any person presume they deserve any of His goodness.
It was always those who were aware of their unworthiness, that Jesus counted worthy. Isaiah said, “Woe is me” – Abraham said – “I who am but dust and ashes’ – Jairus – I am not worthy for you to come under my roof.’ Those are the sentiments of such as are fit for God’s comfort. They are sure to get it.
So let us be very thankful that you feel undeserving of any comfort. I am going to presume that is where you are at. Otherwise God would need to take the pride out of you. He would need to show you again that you have broken His laws, and he who was guilty of this, under the Old covenant was worthy of death. God’s mercy reaches out to the one who trembles in His presence. “He fills the hungry with good things, but the rich He sends empty away”. – ‘This poor man cried unto the Lord, and the Lord delivered him out of all his troubles. The prodigal son said, ”I am no more worthy to be called Thy son.’ – So I have already answered this hindrance of feeling unworthy. There is no hindrance at all. If you are the hungry man, and the poor man, and the prodigal son, and you feel so unworthy like Isaiah, that you feel you will die, – then you are the person that God will visit with His comfort – “to this man will I look….!”
We can’t help it sometimes, but this is one of the effects of sin. As soon as Adam fell, he became suspicious of God, and we have all inherited it. Suspicion was a part of the temptation the devil used to tempt Eve. He suggested that God begrudged her the knowledge of knowing good & evil. He did not want her to become like Himself.
So he created this suspicion of God in her mind. And it has continued with us. It doesn’t take much for us to have hard thoughts of God. He is being unfair with us – not answering our prayers. We are shocked with unexpected trouble – “How can God do this to me”.
And this is something we must fight against. We must run away from ever suspecting God. If God says one thing to us, we must not think that He means something else. We must not suppose that He is double-minded. We can trust Him – trust His heart for us – even the Syrophoenician woman did so – after Jesus called her a dog – she trusted His heart.
John Bunyan, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, said when he was converted – and put his trust in Christ – “I would have run to Christ even if He had a sword in His hand – Yea I would have run upon that sword.” Even if God is killing us, we can trust Him to take care of us – that is the essence of Rom.14 – “If we live, we live unto the Lord, if we die we ….!”
This is an extension of our suspicious and misunderstanding nature. It makes God the last person we could look to for what is good. If we wanted judgment, and anger for sin, and punishment, and suchlike things, then we could expect that from God, but certainly not good things.
But how wrong we are. Moses prayed – “Show me Your glory.” This was the response – Exo.34:6-7 …abounding in goodness. In Hebrew it is simply – multiplied goodness.
After the Israelites had provoked God to judge them by scattering them among the nations; and there was only a remnant left, vastly outnumbered by the heathen, and their false gods, where were they expected to find help? – God said in Deut. ‘But if from there you shalt seek the Lord your God, you shalt find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and with all thy soul.”
Whatever has been your practice up until now, – if you never thought much of God, or looking to Him for abundant goodness.’ Don’t say to yourself – “I can’t start now” – Friend – the past is past – it is dead and gone. We cannot alter the bad and foolish things we have done. It will always remain what it’ was. What we are concerned with is the nature of God.
My brother & his wife stayed with us this last week. He is an atheist, with a capital “A”. And after some of our discussions where he stated how idiotic anyone is who has to believe in a Creator to explain the things they cannot explain; and how preposterous it is, that a person can live all their life like a capital “B”, but then if they repent at the last moment, they will go immediately to Heaven…!
I said, ‘for all that, God is ready to be merciful even if someone like you, on your death bed, were to suddenly be afraid – you suddenly thought, how is it I have a mind & thoughts – what is my life; what is my spirit & you wonder is there life after death – what if I am wrong and there is a Creator – how could all this just happen of it’s own accord – if then you cried out in horror, is there any hope – I would remind you of the thief on the cross, God has not changed; as long as there is breath, God still encourages the worst & most hard hearted person to look to Him for mercy in the Name of Christ.
God is the God of grace and the God of all comfort. The Bible says, ‘where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.” This is what we must expect from God – we must believe it. We must say to our self: This is a bad old habit of mine, not looking to God, and expecting good. I must break with it altogether. Let Him now make all things new with me. So that is how we handle the main hindrances.
That is the usual outcome of troubles. Discouragement; and a discouraged person is always a weak person. The devil knows this very well; and therefore, he does all he can to put all sorts of discouragements in our way of our going to God for comfort.
This is where we must say to ourselves, ‘it is the, most natural thing in the world, for the devil to take advantage of me. This is precisely what I might have expected. I have no doubt, my friend, that you have a great many discouragements. Was there ever anything that was great brought about without overcoming discouragement?
If we know this, we can draw courage from the very presence of discouragement. This proves I have gone through the Strait gate, and narrow is my way; and that is a good sign that the end of that way is right.’ So how do we cope with these difficulties. Let me briefly mention …!
You have done that once – and come to Christ for life. If you spend all your time in condemning yourself, you will have no time to spend in finding God. I don’t believe God intends us to spend all our time in self-condemnation.
God might well say to us, ‘Why are you looking at yourself, and not looking to Me! Are your sins more important than My grace? Do you give Me no room to act in comfort and blessing, the way in which I love to act?’
God will be more glorified by your being comforted than by your continually refusing to be comforted, or crying out that you are unworthy to be comforted.
Even if you don’t receive the feeling of comfort or uplift, don’t presume you have been abandoned.
Some of the most favoured servants of God, and most consistent Christians, never had any uplifting experience in their life. And others who have been lifted up have gone down very low in dejection.
Paul was caught up into the third heaven, and heard words which it was not lawful to utter; and to make that ecstasy safe, he had to receive a thorn in the flesh, which, ‘though he prayed thrice for its removal, was not taken away.
When clouds come between you and God, say ‘All, that is a hindrance. It does not change God, it does not change my position toward God; but it is a hindrance, and that is all.
And when the hindrances come, remind ourselves. ‘These are what we are to expect; they have no power against the Lord.’
Look at it this way. How can God ever wipe tears from our eyes – and there be no more sorrow of pain – if there was no such thing as hindrances.
I must carry on the Christian warfare even on my bed, the same as if I were in the world. One day we shall shout ‘Thanks be to God, which gives me the victory through my Lord Jesus Christ.’