Where do you turn to when you are hurt or in pain? What do you use to try to comfort yourself when life is a disappointment? If you are like most people, you may turn to alcohol, drugs, illicit sex–whether real or simply fantasized– or your spouse or some other person to fill all your needs. You may throw yourself into your work or some other success, or even let depression lure your into an unusual amount of sleep, but there is only one place where you will really find any genuine comfort: Christ.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
As hard as it may initially be to believe, God is the only lasting and real solace to the disappointments and griefs of life. He knows this–as a matter of fact, He admonishes His people for looking for comfort and satisfaction elsewhere:
“‘Be astonished, o heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate,’ says the Lord. ‘For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.'” (Jeremiah 2:12, 13)
A cistern is a well. Its sole purpose is to hold water from which the people can quench their thirst; if it has no water, it is useless. That is what God accused the Israelites of doing in this passage. They abandoned Him, the only One who could really meet all of their heart-felt needs, and turned to empty things–the Bible call them idols, but they are basically anything that we turn to in place of God to meet the needs that only He can fill. We, unfortunately, are no different.
As I look at myself today, I feel weighed down. My best friend in life was my mother–since her death there were many moments I have wanted confident advice, someone to tell me what to do in the various issues life throws my way–but there is no one. I see myself aging–my body is beginning to hurt in ways I never imagined, and sooner than I had imagined. Additionally, I am carrying a heavy load in terms of time commitment chauffeuring our children to their various activities and work outside the home, and a heavy mental burden of responsibility for the well-being of many. It is tempting to try to seek relief, and I know that I am not alone.
Different people look in different places. Some years ago a mother I know lost her son. She began drinking to fill the pain, a coping method many others have tried. It didn’t work, as is the case with any idol. Eventually, the Lord God drew her out of it into a true relationship with Himself, but alcoholism and drugs do attract many. Not just those who are in grief, but also those who are just plain empty, lonely, or whose life doesn’t seem to have purpose. The lure is, perhaps, that you can “forget” your cares for a while, but the cost is steep. The addiction physically wears your body down, bereaves you financially, and renders you unavailable to actively do what God has placed you here to accomplish–in many cases it genuinely ruins your life.
Other people turn to illicit relationships, thinking that they will find a “perfect” person out there who will completely meet every physical, mental, and emotional need they have, but this, too, is an illusion because no one flawed human being can be everything to you, and sin, while initially pleasant, results in a far worse outcome than where you started.
The list of potential God-replacements–idols–is endless, but they all share the common quality of promising, but ultimately failing, to deliver. Yet Jesus has a solution that does work, and it is Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) But how can this be? How can Someone who sometimes doesn’t seem to be there, who is invisible–whose existence some even question–meet our very real needs?
The reason Jesus can be our everything is because unlike the other avenues of comfort we seek, He is God–He is able. It will initially require some self-denial–some saying, “no!” to other false comforters–to an empty well that doesn’t have what it promises–but when we throw ourselves on Christ in prayer, He doesn’t ignore us. The comfort is different than the merely physical panaceas, but it is there, it is real, and it is eternal because He is eternal.
Be my comfort, my consolation, my solace. Be my all in all, and meet every need I have, whether physical, emotional, spiritual or mental. Let me be like Jacob who wrestled with your angel and wouldn’t let go of him until he received a blessing–let me cling to You for the comfort and consolation that doesn’t disappoint and doesn’t leave me empty! Amen.