A Prayer for Comfort
2Th. 2:16 ¶ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,
2Th. 2:17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Those who had become followers of Jesus Christ were facing, or would be facing times of persecution. Paul knew this far too well for life had been a challenge from the moment he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. However, it was a challenge which he was willing to meet for along the way he discovered the comforting presence of Jesus Christ in all things. This final prayer was not about having a life of comfort, but instead was about having the privilege of experiencing a relationship with the Holy Trinity that would result in a deep and abiding sense of comfort in all things. Through grace we experience eternal comfort -- and the Greek here says something like comfort through the eons. This means that we step into a relationship of comfort that begins today but leads out into eternity. And the word comfort struck me as well, for the word here is paraklesis -- the same root of the word paraklete, whom we have come to understand as the Holy Spirit -- the "Comforter." So this eternal comfort is a sense of peace which comes from a relationship with God in which the Holy Spirit is with us through all of eternity; and this gives us hope. This comfort brings peace to our hearts and strengthens us in all that we will do and say. And this is the prayer, the promise for those who will face persecutions in Thessalonica, but for all followers who will read the epistles in the years to come.
Just this morning I've been listening on-line to a funeral service of a gal from my High School class. Tragically she died much too young, but at her own hand. She was a vibrant Christian, a wonderful wife and mother, and yet, she struggled deeply with depression. The family had asked the minister to address the depression head on in the funeral service for it is something that too many are afraid to discuss. Their hope was that his words might bring hope to someone else. And so the message was a powerful one and one that spoke to the need for comfort. Too often the pain of depression becomes so great that the one suffering believes that the only way to resolve the pain for themselves and for their family members is for them to be gone. Sadly the depression has brought them so low that they cannot hear the still sweet voice of Jesus reminding them that he is the God of all comfort. And maybe this is where our works and words may need to become active. Maybe we are the carriers of that comfort to others in their times of need.
One of the greatest needs in our world today is to experience the comforting presence of God in our lives. And today I was touched by this idea of eternal comfort. How often do we think that this sense of peace which we receive from God is something that will come and go. The thought that I might sense him today, but what if I don't tomorrow? But that's not what we are told. We discover here that if we step into a relationship which Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, that the "Comforter" will now be with us throughout all of eternity. This is not a hit and miss thing. This idea of comfort is not just for the bad days. This is a relationship in which we are comforted day in and day out for the remainder of eternity.
Within this relationship I have discovered that there is always a resultant action. The relationship is never static, but calls us into interaction with the world and here we are encouraged, comforted and strengthened to do good works and speak good words. In other words, there is a change in the person's behavior as a result of the presence of the Comforter. With comfort comes transformation. Paul was radically transformed as a result of his experience on the road to Damascus and as a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life. The same is true for the church in Thessalonica, and for us today. We are challenged through this prayer to maintain a deep and abiding relationship with God on high and through this we will experience his comfort.
May this be our prayer today!
Lord, may you comfort my heart and strengthen me today in every good work and word. Amen.