The news has been traumatic this week. The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey is still being felt in Texas and Louisiana. Hurricane Irma is blowing through the Caribbean Islands as I write and expected to strike Florida by the time you receive this column. The lives lost, the families forced to live in shelters, the billions in property damage is devastating.
In our church community this week, two prominent individuals died and both were buried on the same day so we are feeling the double impact of stress and grief.
Looking for words of encouragement, I typed the word “comfort” in a Bible program on my computer. In seconds, there were over 60 verses. I clicked print and received five pages of comforting scripture. At a Bible study, each person was given a copy and asked to pick a favorite verse and tell how they received comfort in the midst of crisis.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) Mary talked of her father dying and how hearing those words at the funeral reminded her of Dad’s loving protection and discipline.
“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him…” (Isaiah 57:18) John laughed and said, “God knows what kind of rascal I am and He still offers healing and comfort!”
Two women spoke of Ruth 2:13: “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my Lord. You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant — though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls.” They spoke of receiving love and comfort from their church family during difficult times.
Greg became excited when he found this one. “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” (Psalm 119:50) He had been going through a painful marital separation and was looking for direction in his life. He found the comfort of God that night and eventually discovered the strength to begin putting his life back together.
Jennifer added: “May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.” (Psalm 119:76) Her children had been difficult that day as she began to cry. Across the table someone quietly read another verse to her. “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you…” (Isaiah 66:13)
You could feel God’s Holy Spirit in the room offering reassurance as God’s Word began to soothe troubled hearts and quiet frayed nerves. Tears of sorrow were replaced by sighs of relief as our class members experienced the compassion and the love of a God who never fails to offer comfort, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
What crisis have you been experiencing lately?
Have you lost a loved one? Worried over your children? Family or friends in the Hurricane zones? Marital difficulties? Job loss? Medical problems?
There are verses of comfort for you and it doesn’t take a computer to find. Just open your Bible and begin to read. Before long you will feel the power of God and the words of comfort will flood the very depths of your soul.
The Bible Study ended with a reminder from Isaiah: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” (40:1) May God provide comfort and aid for those in the path of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as well as our communities and churches as we cope with crisis and grief. May God provide comfort for you in the midst of hardship and stress. May you experience the amazing grace only God can provide.