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Monday, January 06, 2014

Jesus, Comfort for the Church

(2 Cor 1:3-5) “Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”

Someone said that when Jesus was born, his first cry was God’s way of saying, “I got this. Everything’s gonna be alright.”

I read a story recently of a 15 year old boy who was admitted to the hospital due to a high fever. Turned out the young man had leukemia and endured blood transfusions, spinal and bone marrow tests, and chemotherapy. Then he developed pneumonia. For five days his mother stayed in his hospital room. The only words they heard from the doctors were in the plain terms and seriousness of his disease.

Though he had never been in the hospital before, he looked around his room then finally said, “I thought you get flowers when you're in the hospital.”  One of his aunts called a floral shop to order a flower arrangement and as she placed the order, his aunt described her nephew’s condition.

The flowers came and the arrangement was beautiful. He found the card from his aunt, but when he opened it, discovered another smaller envelope inside the first. A smaller card read: “Douglas--I took your order. I work at the Florist. I had leukemia when I was 7 years old. I’m 22 years old now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely,  Laura.”

According to his mother, the boys` face lit up and all he could say was, “Oh!”

Here is his mother’s report: “For the first time since he had been in the hospital, he had gotten some inspiration. He had talked to so many doctors and nurses. But this one card, from the woman at the florist`s who had survived leukemia, was the thing that made him believe he might beat the disease.”

Someone tracked down Laura (the florist) and she said: “When the woman on the phone told me that the boy had leukemia, my head dropped into my hands. I felt tears coming into my eyes. It reminded me of when I first learned that I had it.”

Because Laura took the time to care, Douglas was comforted and gained hope.

Do you remember Barnabas, in the book of Acts? Can you recall what his name means? It means “son of encouragement.” Encouragement is building someone up.  This is the word Paul uses here of Jesus. (v. 5) “our comfort also abounds through Christ.” Jesus is the very essence of comfort.

If we were discussing food, Jesus is not the waiter who brings food--He is the food. He is not a waterboy, but the stream. Those in distressed are comforted by Him because He Himself is the comfort. When we are comforted, encouraged, something happens in the heart.

Comfort is what God gives in Christ Jesus so that when He builds His church then discontent, displeasure, dissatisfaction, need, pain, sadness, sorrow is removed. He builds up living stones into a living body that is not to spend energy and time nursing it’s own wounds but carrying out a living ministry of comfort, encouragement, building up.  

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