I was enjoying Christmas carols running through my head today as I worked and found myself singing the line: Good tidings of comfort and joy.
I think comfort and joy are great things to pursue and to offer to others as blessings. The pursuit of happiness is part of what makes America what it is. But what brings real comfort and joy?
According to the marketing messages I see on the internet, it could range anywhere from a tablet computer to clothing to the old standby: comfort food. And while these items, particularly the comfort food definitely bring comfort and joy (I forgot the rule never to write on your blog while hungry – sorry), we know they don’t bring comfort that lasts. They also sure don’t bring lasting comfort in difficult times of sickness, sadness or death. But what does? The kids in my BSF class would answer “Jesus” (I think they have now figured out they can answer Jesus for almost any BSF question). And while we know that is true, as adults we need more words. That isn’t to say that we need more than Jesus provides, but we are longing for a deeper understanding and connection.
I turned to people smarter than I am and looked back at question 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism written in about 1563:
“What is your only comfort in life and death?”
The answer is:
“That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.”
I love how the first part of the answer to finding comfort is not “adding something more” but instead it is “letting something go” and recognizing I am not in charge. I am free today because He has fully paid (past tense) for all my sins. I am preserved, protected, assured and empowered by God.
But I think the most convicting line in being filled with comfort is the last: willing and ready from now on to live for Him. How many of us struggle with the “from now on” part of that? I mean, someday, after we die, we’ll live in heaven with Him. But this says that comfort comes from living for Him today, now, not just in the future. So much of our culture is focused on living a life for increased wealth, power and prestige. But we know those things don’t bring comfort. They just bring more longing. There were some pretty smart folks 500 years ago – amazing how the #1 question then, for most people is still the #1 question today.
And, by the way – Good tidings of Comfort and Joy to you!
Another BTW: This is officially my 100th post! Thanks to all who read and comments and feedback are always welcome!