Seven Wonders of the Word
“Comfort, O comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that she has served her term,
that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.” – Isaiah 40:1-2
Comfort… ahhh… yes?
Well… maybe no…
The idea of having to be comforted is well… a little uncomfortable. You see I think most people want to prepare for the worst. It’s why we have insurance, its why we have schedules, but you can’t really plan or prepare comfort.
Pre-eating all the comfort food in the world will not prepare you for that day when it all seems to be coming a part at the seams. What you need then, what you need when your world is falling apart is for that comfort to be there.
I have learned a thing over the years about comfort, and that is sometimes as much as I may want to comfort, to make something better, the situation at hand is way out of my league. Sometimes we allow God to bring that word of comfort in our lives and in the lives of others when we realize that there is no way we can fix this on our own, or maybe ever. It is at times like these when I think of the old maxim, “Let go and let God.” It might be a bit campy… but I also think it is deeply true.
Sometimes, it is only when we shut up, when we fall exhausted when we have reached the end of our ropes that we can finally be comforted with a word from God. True comfort comes from someone beyond yourself, someone you trust, when you hear the words come to you that “everything will be ok.” You know it will be true, and there is sweet comfort there.
Some of my best pastoral work in the realm of comfort comes not with the words I use, my speaking voice or any of the other “pastory” physical gifts I may or may not have. You see, I make cookies, and I make one mean Chocolate Chip cookie. I there have been times when my cookies have along with the act of being there and giving them to another has brought more comfort than all the words I learned in seminary. Comfort food in part is only comforting in as much as it is made by another or evokes the memory of another who first comforted. Its sort of like Holy Communion in that way.
In his Small Catechism Luther answers the question of how can this ordinary act of eating and drinking do what we claim it does.”It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Given, and shed for you, for the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.”
The Word comforts because it brings with it a promise, a promise of a better future, a future when God will do once again what God has always done, to bring love, forgiveness and abundant life. It is comfort that will be there when we need it, and that is a real comfort!