“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” Isaiah 40:1-2
Heidelberg Catechism – What is your only comfort in life and in death? That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death- to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
A steadying hand when you’re feeling shaky, an encouraging word when you need a boost of confidence, a big hug from a friend when you’re oh so lonely – little pieces of comfort that can get you through a hard time. We’ve all been there: you’re scared, sad, unsure, self-conscious, hopeless, you’re caught in the dark and all you need is for someone to come along and tell you that it’s going to be okay, that your story has a happy ending after all.
In those moments, it’s only natural to seek out that solace, but more often than not, we turn to the wrong things for comfort – good things, but things that were never meant to sustain our joy.
We hold ourselves up with what other people think of us, with staying busy, standing tall in our grades and accomplishments, and believing that if we just try a little harder to be a little better everything will be alright again. And it may be better for a little while – we can distract ourselves from the fear and pain and hurt, but all those things were never made to comfort us completely.
It’s exhausting to have to keep this up, trying to make ourselves better and make ourselves okay. We are a people defined by our sinful nature; at our very core we’re not okay with God, and that means that we are naturally in a state of discomfort. Your sadness, your hurt, your loneliness and self-consciousness are all normal – but the best news is that we have a Savior who doesn’t leave us there.
In Isaiah we see God’s tenderness and patient compassion as he rescues his people. Your Creator knows you intimately, he formed every hair on your head, and he knows how to comfort you better and more fully than anyone else in the world. He experienced pain on earth, and he understands your suffering better than anyone else.
I love that question from the Heidelberg Catechism – what better comfort is there than to know that you are forever forgiven, cared for, and adored? As God’s beloved children we can rest in his delight because our debt of sin has been paid in full – what a crazy incredible love!
Not only that, we are assured that our God is at work in us, tenderly restoring us and healing all that hurt and making us new. We can find eternal comfort in Him, knowing that one day, someday, all of our discomfort will come to an end and we will be redeemed and whole and finally with Him.
Knowing this, as it says in the hymn “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks,” we can rejoice that we are bound for the land, “Where sickness, sorrow, pain and death are felt and feared no more.” We can find comfort in our Savior’s redemption of our past, tender attention in the present, and promise for the future.