The perfect consolation; you know, that book that everyone reads and receives words of comfort, no matter the pain; those particular words that always bring a warm feeling when spoken; or that Bible verse that always speaks to anyone who reads, bringing them a measure of peace. You didn’t know because they don’t exist. There is not a single book, or a particular phrase, or even a verse in the Bible that will touch every pain. The reason is that pain and suffering is subjective; my pain is different than yours, and therefore, the consolation will also vary. This article is not a golden ticket to fix all your brokenness. What I am bringing you are the words and stories that have reached my heart. Perhaps they could have value in your journey as well.
There are common passages that are recited to tell of the love and comfort of God. Many people bring up Job. It really is a great story and has a great message. Perhaps my struggle is to help me grow. After all, it is written in Genesis that what is meant for evil, God can take and use for your good (Ge 50:20). There are many phrases from the psalms: Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved;” or Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble;” and many others like Psalm 9:9; 28:6–7; 37:23-24; and 62:5–8. The psalms are written in a way that can just about meet any concern a person might have. We have all heard the promise of God written by Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Such a beautiful thing to know that God has a plan for you.
I know all those verses; I have for quite some time. I have gone through very difficult times while knowing those verses and more. But the pain was still there. I have turned to them, recited them, written them on my wall, but the pain was still there. So, what is so great about the love and comfort of God in my difficult times if my pain is still there? Have your ever thought like that? I have too. Most of us have.
I realized that I was really wanting the pain to go away, like anyone, I wanted the difficult times to not be so difficult. And I realize it is easy to measure God’s love by our struggle; when we face hardship, we pray. If the struggle is remedied, we testify of God’s love. But it is what happens when we remain in the struggle. You don’t hear many of those testimonies, do you? It is because of how we often measure his love. I believe God’s love is sustaining, but we have to understand his love. We have to understand that God does not always remove us from dark valleys. You might ask, “why not?” I don’t have that answer. But what I can assure you is that the love of God is demonstrated when you are in that valley and you have the Almighty saying, “I am there with you.” You know, I will take that. I will take it because that is comfort.
Many times in Scripture, it speaks of the presence of God. We read of the fascinating stories when God’s presence was made known to ones like Moses and David. David proclaimed, “In your presence is fullness of joy” (Ps 16:11). When Joshua was about to take on the difficult task of leading the children of Israel, God made him a promise; “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Jos 1:9). We also have the timeless promise made by Jesus to the disciples when he was about to leave; he told them he truly would not leave them alone as orphans (Jn 14:18); he was speaking of his residing presence through the Holy Spirit.
How has God demonstrated his love and comfort to me in difficult times? By his constant reminder that he is present. You know what I am talking about; that time when you just need a friend to be present. And how special it is for a friend to just be there. They don’t have to fix it. Most often, the solace comes from them just being there. God knows of that need and wants to remind us that he loves us enough to stand with us even in the darkness—he is there. Why? because that may be where you are. And that is where the comfort comes from as well; just knowing that we are not alone. So, keep on walking through; keep pushing—God is pushing with you.
God’s presence—that is love and comfort.