Which is Your Hope: To Be Comfortable, or Comforted?
Devotional Thought of the Day:
3 “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! 4 “Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them! 5 “Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised! Matthew 5:3-5 (TEV)
Instead of divine consolation, they want changes that will redeem suffering by removing it: not redemption through suffering, but redemption from suffering is their watchword; not expectation of divine assistance, but the humanization of man by man is their goal.
In his book on the Rapture, Tim LeHaye justifies his belief in the rapture based on the emotional appeal that Christ would never allow His people, the Bride of Chrsit to suffer. (p.65-69) He pictures the church not surviing such suffering, such pain, such horrors. He pictures Chrsit wanting to eliminate suffering for all believers, now, not just in eternal life. He fears the Tribulation, and even suggests that the church would not be able to sruvive it, should she be left behind.
I don’t want to focus on errors in his eschatology, but rather in the presupposition that God wouldn’t allow the church to suffer. This is a much larger issue in American Christianity, for it is not just those that hold to the teaching of a premillenial rapture that would come to the conclusiont hat God wants the church comfortable. i don’t know fo a theological system that doesn’t fall prey to this at some point, including those who like me express theology in a Lutheran or catholic-sacramental context. ( In our modern version, this often means saving people from martyrdom or political oppression. Or in our denial to seek help, whether it be from a father confessor, or a counselor, or a doctor. )
We all have our desire to be comfortable manifest itself in ugly ways. It might be in our attempts to isolate ourselves from the ugliness of sin, or to hide anything that would cause us to feel sharem, or grief.
I think it is a matter of maturity and faith when we can set aside this desire for being comfortable with the desire to be comforted. And when faced with suffering or sacrifice Benedict XVI was right, we want to be redeemed from suffering, to be saved without experience the guilt and shame that tells us we need to be delivered. If we want to be saveed – it is from the guilta and shame, not from what causes it.
But to desire to be comforted, even in the midst of the pain, is something radically different. It means relying on Jesus, on His wisdom, on His promises that what we are going through doesn’t seperate us from Him.
The article I quoted form Benedict above had another quote qorth including:
Before this image, the monks prayed with the sick, who found consolation in the knowledge that, in Christ, God suffered with them. This painting made them realize that precisely by reason of their sickness they were identified with the crucified Christ, who, by his suffering, had become one with all the suffering of history; they felt the presence of the Crucified One in their cross and knew that, in their distress, they were drawn into union with Christ and hence into the abyss of his eternal mercy
There is something about that which cries our with great comfort. We do not walk alone, that we are not abandoned by God to make it through this vail of tears on our own. The Lord is With In our brokenness, in our need for answers, in our need for hope, we find Him, we realize that He is holding us in His hands, bearing our sorrow, our grief, our sin.
So how do we grow in this, how do we lay aside our rights, our comfortability, our pleausre? How do we take up our cross?
By trusting and depending upon Jesus. By finding our refuge in the comfort of His love, by dwelling in His presence, for there we know His peace, there we know comfort, and we experience a joy that sustains us.
Seek His presence, seek His kingdom, there is comfort there… and the more you know it, the easier it becomes to seek.
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (pp. 122–123). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Posted on April 13, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions and tagged comfort, comfortable, practicing the presence of God, sacrifice, suffering, Theology of the Cross, walking with Jesus. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.