Sweet Arms of Jesus
2Cor. 1:3 ¶ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
2Cor. 1:4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2Cor. 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
We have celebrated this Easter Season and concluded yesterday with the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Throughout this time and journey the different writers of the Scriptures have brought us into communion with Jesus Christ, his work, his ministry and his sufferings. Today, however, Paul brings us into Jesus' life in another way. He wants us to understand the nature of compassion and comfort which flows from God.
The word which we read here as compassionate may also be translated to mean mercy. All of this derives from the very nature of God, from his love which results in mercy and compassion. When we become the recipients of that mercy and compassion, we experience comfort in the midst of our troubles. Not only do we experience comfort, but as we participate in Christ, we are able to comfort those around us who are in need.
Paul helps us to understand that as we grow in our ever-increasing participation in Christ, his characteristics will be revealed in us. The comfort which comes from God will overflow out of our lives and touch the world around us. The sweet arms of Jesus are present here on earth, comforting those that have need, through us.
There are times in life when things become so difficult that you simply want to sit enveloped in the sweet arms of Jesus. It may be after the crushing loss of a loved one. It could be in the moment of a horrible diagnosis. Or, for someone like me, an MK/PK, it has been in those moments when you discovered that you were going to have to move on again and somehow figure out how to fit in with another culture, location and group of friends. Those moments have been so painful in my life that I can still see myself as a little girl standing in the Frankfurt airport, dressed up and ready to move to America with our German friends singing, "God be with you 'til we meet again." Even at that young age I felt like something was ripping up out of my chest and I thought that I would never survive.
My parents had always taught us to go to the Lord with our joys, passions and pains. So, as a child I learned to have long conversations with the Lord. I was sad. I was lonely. I was scared to death and the American kids made fun of the way I dressed and I talked. But each morning I'd take a big deep breath and call on Jesus to go with me and I began to find comfort in the sweet arms of Jesus. Throughout life I've learned that the sweet arms of Jesus are big enough to carry me through the depths of the pain. It certainly doesn't mean that there will be no pain, but it does mean that there is a balm for the wound for the God of all comfort knows how to comfort.
Along the journey of my life there have been those who have been willing to be the comfort of Jesus to me and to others. Often they are the most unexpected individuals -- the ones who remain tenaciously present in the midst of your pain. Somehow they have learned to become participants with Christ in the midst of pain and suffering and to be the comfort of Jesus to those around them.
We all need to experience the sweet arms of Jesus. Some days we may be the recipients and some days we need to be the delivery system for that comfort and love. But it all begins with getting to know Christ and growing in him and into him on a daily basis. May we curl up with him, read his word, and abide in the sweet arms of Jesus every single day.
Lord, thank you for your love and comfort. Please help me to be that comfort for the world around me. Amen.