Sunday, January 24, 2016

Need a Hug?

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.   1Thessalonians 5:9-11  NKJV

Have you ever needed a good hug?  Although not a hugger by nature, as a result of having a wife and three daughters I can assure you I have been converted.  The comfort and reassurance we feel as a result of knowing someone cares about whatever we might be experiencing is something we not only want, but often search for in our time of need.  Although in this life there are many reasons we might need comfort, I think it is becoming more and more obvious as we see what direction this world is heading that many of us need the reassurance that we will be spared the judgment we know is coming.

It would seem from reading Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica that the believers there were in need of comfort and reassurance just as many of us might be today.  This church was young, having been founded by Paul after his release from prison in Philippi, and like many churches, was beginning to suffer persecution by unbelievers.  Along with that came pressure to conform to the pagan sexual beliefs that were prevalent in the city. The new believers in Thessalonica stood out from the majority because of their decision to life a life of purity according to God’s Word.  Yet from the tone of the letter, it would appear that Paul was concerned that they needed some comfort and reassurance to remain faithful to what they had been taught.

For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.       1Thessalonians 2:9-12  NKJV

The first thing Paul does is remind the believers at Thessalonica of how he comforted them while he was there much like a father comforting his own children.  Just as a child naturally runs to his parents for comfort, we too as believers will find our comfort from our heavenly Father.  Yet what is important about what Paul is trying to say can be found in verse eleven where he tells us that it is our responsibility to comfort others just as we are comforted by our Father.  So often we are only concerned with our own comfort while not realizing that many believers around us are suffering from the same anxiety as a result of the times we are living in and are in need of comfort as well.

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.   2Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV

Obviously what Paul makes clear is that the source of our comfort comes from God the Father, and we are responsible to pass that comfort along to others around us who are also in need.  Yet now that we know the source of our comfort, and the responsibility which comes with it, what do we know about the nature of that comfort?  As believers, is there a certain type of reassurance which we can use which we find is more effective than the sort of comfort the world might have to offer?  Again Paul comes to our rescue by telling the Thessalonians, and us as well, exactly what we need to hear to find comfort in the difficult times we find ourselves living in today.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.    1Thessalonians 4:16-18 NKJV

Does the knowledge that you will spend eternity with God the Father in Heaven give you comfort?  Have you ever considered that the key to finding comfort in this world is to focus on the destination rather than the journey? I recall taking a trip with my daughters one time where we flew to Southern California to visit my family, along with plans to take in all of the attractions we could in one week’s time.  Unfortunately the flight itself was an adventure by virtue of turbulence which none of them found exciting to say the least.  As they looked to me for comfort, I tried my best to deal with their anxiety by focusing on what we were going to do when we got there, and the fun we were going to have spending all of Dad’s money.  Guess what?  It worked!

Are you looking forward to the rapture of the Church?  Have you given thought to what life with Jesus will be like?  Do you see the signs all around us and believe it is near?  Are you watching for His return and giving comfort to others by sharing the news of His coming for us?  God understands our need for comfort, so He has given us signs to watch for so we will know the time is near.  He has given us His Word, with the promise of our deliverance from our present troubles as well as a description of what we can look forward to when we get to our final destination. To me, this is the comforting hug I so often need from my Heavenly Father.

This is where I find my comfort in these distressing times, and I hope by sharing these words with you that you will also find comfort.  If you have never made the decision to accept the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I suggest you do that today so you too can experience the comfort that comes from knowing you will spend eternity with our Father in Heaven.  Then pass along to others the comfort which comes from knowing He is coming soon to take us home.

This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.            Psalms 119:50 NKJV

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