Let us pray: Dear Savior, although we know that physical and mental health go hand-in-hand with spiritual health, we often forget that truth. And as a result our lives are filled with grief and inner pain for which You have the cure, but we don’t partake of it. Today remind us to drink deeply from the never-ending well of Your salvation so that our lives may be rich beyond any measure of this world. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE SOURCE OF ALL TRUE COMFORT IN LIFE!
TEXT: 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Medical science is a wonderful gift from God. We can all thank God that we live in an age when countless illnesses that used to be a death sentence are treatable. That being said, the medical profession treats the body because it relies on science, whereas it cannot treat the inner man, the soul, because it lies outside the scientific realm. That’s where God, the Bible, and Church come into the picture. I suppose it’s a “quality of life” issue, isn’t it? That is, if your body is well, but your inner self is in pain, medicine in powerless and life really isn’t too much fun.
When you go to the doctor, he or she, takes your blood pressure, listens to your heart, orders various tests and perhaps proscribes some drug or supplement to help fix your body. Often, with various ailments, they also give you dietary guidelines to follow. But, they cannot fix or alleviate a hurting soul. However, God can! And God does! So today I want to talk to you about:
THE DIET DEFICIENCY YOUR DOCTOR NEVER MENTIONS
When I got the phone call that my father had died 10 years ago, it was like getting hit in the stomach. It hurt. O, I knew he was sick. I knew when I saw him a few weeks before that I probably wouldn’t see him again on this earth. And yet, the equilibrium of my world had been turned upside down. It was O so final.
Death is the “big one” when it comes to life’s hits. But you and I face a whole lot of little and medium size hits, too. Divorce comes to mind. Job losses are another. The lingering pain of an illness, an accident, or some world disaster that impacts us also rank high on the list. During those times we are, like Jesus once said, “sheep without a shepherd.” We wander through our days in a haze. We all want to feel in control, that’s our comfort zone. But at such times there is no control and thus, for us, there appears to be no comfort. What should we do, how should we act, where should we turn to for help? The medical doctors can proscribe medication to help you sleep or to calm your anxiety. But, that’s really superficial, momentary comfort resulting from a dulling of the senses. Well, at those times we especially need God! We need His all-knowing, all-caring, calming voice. And we find that voice in our Bibles.
Listen to St. Paul, who had a somewhat hellish life, as he relates to us his source of comfort. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 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. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
One of the forgotten aspects and blessings of regular worship is the receiving of comfort from God. Too often when people are hurting they cocoon and withdraw into a shell, neglecting worship and thus neglecting the thing they need most in life: Godly comfort. If you do a word study from the Greek on the word used here for: comfort, you’ll find it means this: “encouragement, help, comfort, salvation, and setting free.” We humans don’t live in a vacuum. Our bodies and souls are intertwined. Just as we need sustenance for our bodies, so, too, our souls. And when we read our Bibles and meditate on God’s Word, when we worship together, when we take time to fellowship and share our problems with God and each other—our souls are healed. Remember when Isaiah writes: “Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows”? That refers to Christ. Christ, God’s Son, has already suffered our pain. And when He gave His life for ours on the cross, He paid for that pain. Yes, in Him the debt of all pain as been paid. And when He arose from the grave the stomach-ache of pain was changed instantly to pure joy. He helped, He set us free from its mind-numbing effects. And when we use His Word and others use it around us, true comfort comes. Because now our control-issues are resolved. Now we know that our loving God controls all things in our lives and “all things work for good to those who love Him.”
This past week, my “Wall Street Journal” contained an article about how people today want to control their own funerals. Photon torpedo caskets (shades of Star Trek) to Harley Davidson funeral processions by biker friends are becoming the norm. Today the baby-boomers want funerals that jolt the modern culture and leave (in their minds) some impact upon it. The writer concludes by saying: “What’s wrong with all this? At the individual level, funerary frivolity trivializes both the death and the life that preceded it. At the social level, tradition and ritual, passed from generation to generation, create a common framework for discussing life’s ultimate questions. When we choose customized, individualized, let-it-be-me funerals, we start slipping from the language of the people to a blank slate. Soon, we’re talking only to ourselves.” And, I might add, talking to yourself means a huge dietary deficiency in genuine comfort!
Contrast all that drivel, with God’s Word: “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
Those are amazingly honest words! Paul doesn’t get down-in-the-mouth about the problems he if facing. He doesn’t let them paralyze him into inactive nothingness. No, he turns them upside down! If I’m distressed, learn from God working through me that you’re not alone with your pain. I share it with you because we all have that bond in Christ. And if Christ can comfort me and pull me out of it with His boundless love, He can and does and will do the same for you! In fact, He has and is right now by reminding you that “Our lives are in His hands” and His hands will never drop us! Or, as King David wrote in Ps. 23: “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me!”
When you expose yourself to the Word of God, you also expose yourself to the Spirit’s power. And remember, Jesus Himself calls the Spirit, our “Comforter from on high.” Your doctor never mentions Christ as the healer of all pain, but I do! For “man does not live by bread (or medicine) alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God!” Yes, God heals all inner pain by reminding us that everything is now right between Him and us because Christ has made it just right! Amen