“Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power but there was no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead...” Ecclesiastes 4:1-2 Rich or poor, what we all want more than anything is to be loved. That may not be what we pursue but it is what we really want. We had the privilege of singing for some ladies at a Teen Challenge rehab center last evening and once again, what seems to move people most about our ministry, is not the songs or the scripture reciting (although that is a significant part of what we do) but it is the image of the family that we present. Once again, when I shared reflections on being made in the image of God and how we receive our concept of God through the behavior of our parents, heads nodded and stories were shared testifying to that truth. Many of these girls had difficult relationships with one or more of their parents and it translated into having a difficult time believing in the love of God. What these ladies long for more than anything is to belong, to be accepted, to be safe, and to be loved. Or, as Ecclesiastes puts it, to be “comforted”. What a priceless gift it is to be comforted! It is something I have taken for granted. I remember the night that my father died of a heart attack. I was in the waiting room at the hospital with my family. We were all crying and praying and found myself unconsciously and continually stroking my sister’s hair looking for comfort. Oddly enough, the next day, as family and friends descended on our house to comfort us, our friend, Susie, was sitting on the floor in front of me and again unconsciously I began stroking her hair seeking comfort. That may sound weird but I didn’t even think much about it. But a little more than a year later, she became my wife. And this reminds me of the scripture passage in Genesis where Isaac marries Rebekah and is “comforted after the death of his mother.” Genesis 24:67 Rich or poor, powerful or weak, what we want and what we seek is comfort and love. The rich and the powerful can afford to by couches, but they cannot buy true friends. True friends and true comfort cannot be bought. It can only be humbly received. Many if not all of the girls at the Teen Challenge sought comfort and escape from pain in substance abuse. They couldn’t find comfort in people and relationships so they tried to find it in an escape and a comforting sensation. But they need the reality. When they see a family working the way it should, they have hope. They have hope that they can have the same order and peace for their own families who are waiting for them to come home after rehab. And they have hope that they can be reconciled to their parents. And they have faith that God received them as His child whether their parents give them comfort or not. We all need grace and we all need comfort. And we can only be a family or an individual that inspires hope so long as we live in the rest of knowing God’s comfort and grace ourselves. But when we do, we give people the invaluable hope of being comforted.
“Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her that her warfare has ended, that her iniquity has been removed, that she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Pray that the Lord will use you to bring comfort to His children today and pray for us too!