Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

2 Thessalonians 2: 16, 17

 

The thermostat of our world seems as if it is broken, for there is very little comfort to be found in these environs today. One moment there is a chill wind blowing and that icy breeze is shredding its way through every layer of clothing that we can find to put on, and then, in an instant, it has switched over to being an inferno of wind and grating sand that is blowing at us from the heart of the Sahara or the Gobi. It is no wonder that it can be so hard to remain encouraged and heart-strong throughout the journey that God has set before each of us. We walk out into a place that has become alien and that is battered by a relentless wind of brokenness that came into the atmosphere when people departed from God’s will for our lives. This is not the world that God created for His people to dwell within, but it is the one that we devised for ourselves.

 

Now we get to continue along our ways in this place as we are forced to survive and to aspire to thrive in the midst of all that is hard, harsh, and challenging. It is the condition of this world, in its physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects, that drives me toward Christ. He provides answer to life’s unfathomable questions, and it is my Lord alone who stands above this world’s most unconscionable acts of greed, violence, and oppression. Christ speaks grace, mercy, and love over and into all of this destruction and the terror that comes from inside of its engulfing cloud of hardship. In Christ I can journey into places where my natural self would never set foot. He provides the strength and the courage to take the risks that can lead to contact with those who our world has attempted to set aside and to bury under its drive for dominion and power. This contact, these relationships, is what Christ uses to make Himself known to the people of our world and to also grow each of us in our faith in Him and trust of His plan and purpose for our lives.

 

So, in Christ we can find the sort of comfort that does not lead to complacency and to self-satisfaction. Through Christ and by the leading of His Spirit people are lifted out of the relentless search for safety, security, and ease that is our natural condition, and we are taken into the world around us with an adventurer’s heart for the daily quest. As we follow Christ into living out His Gospel and delivering its saving truth to the world around us, comfort is redefined so that it is no longer established through control of the air around us; instead, comfort is experienced by virtue of the peace that we know in our hearts and the confidence that our minds receive from the Lord’s eternal word of truth. In Christ, I am transformed from being a person who seeks after comfort as an external aspiration into one who desires to serve my Lord with all that I am. This happens as He implants His eternal presence, word, and purpose into my heart and mind.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8: 38, 39

 

Benjamin Franklin is said to have stated, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” It would seem foolish to argue with such a great mind as Franklin’s, but I think that Paul is presenting us with a different reality to consider. The Apostle certainly places both death and taxes, in the sense that they are the crafting of rulers, among the items in his list of things that control and determine the nature and the quality of our lives. Yet, he also says that these great forces of nature and of humanity are like wisps of wind in comparison to the great love that God has poured out upon us in Christ.

 

Christ gives people something that cannot be gained from anyone else or from any other source. He takes us out from under the final authority of this world, and He places us into deep and intimate relationship with God, the Father. This doesn’t mean that we will escape or avoid the struggles, pain, and loss that can come our way in this broken world. What it does mean is that we are accompanied and comforted in and through it all by the presence of God, and we are granted a certain hope for an eternal future that is absent from all earthly belief.

 

In Christ I know the love that sacrifices all for me. My rebellion and sin are removed by Christ and forever forgotten by God. There is nothing that I have done or any thoughts or actions that I can engage in that will cause God to reject me. As I am in Christ, so I am enfolded into God’s love and grace. With this truth in mind, I can turn with total confidence to Christ for comfort when pain, loss, and grief are present in my life. During times of great trial, even with the end of my life before me, I can rely upon the presence of Christ and the true embrace of His love to strengthen and encourage my faith all the way to that very final moment of life in this world.