God of all comfort
Another reflection from my friend Davy Blackburn. You can read more of his work here.
2 Cor 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ
Years ago a deacon I respected, whilst a hymn was being played, turned to me and said “I never sing along to this part as it is simply not true for me.” The words were “and now I am happy all the day”.
I have to say, though surprised I had to agree with him. I certainly wasn’t happy all the day, not then and not always now. There are speakers who talk of a joy, or inner peace, and I accept that this is something we can attain as a Christian, but perpetual happiness? Perhaps you have been scared to admit as a Christian you do not feel happy or even full of joy all day, because it might somehow make you a lesser believer.
I cannot imagine Paul was always happy, all the time. Jesus when brooding over Israel and the failure of so many Jews to recognise him as Messiah certainly could not have been happy all the time. No one who fears their loved ones might miss out on Heaven can be truly happy. In fact happiness, although desirable and certainly a better state than sadness, grief or fear, is not the ultimate aim for a Christian in this life and not even the point of God in our lives. It may be an effect of our faith and genuine, but it is not the primary goal on Earth.
Paul in his letter to the Corinthians talks of the comfort God brings us in our troubles, and if we have troubles and require comforting, it seems clear to me we cannot always be happy. In fact I doubt any missionaries imprisoned or tortured for years could relate to happiness, other than the joy of knowing their salvation is secure.
So yes there is a certainty within the believer which gives us that hope and inner peace and even joy. But happiness on a human level is a very unlikely state of being all day. In fact I have learned over the years that embracing my emotions, my sadness, my failures, my tears, that I realise I am fully human and in need of God. I can understand better the things I experience and what others are going through, if not I could never empathise with anyone.
Jesus came down to Earth with a mission to save souls, but he also came down to empathise with us, to understand what it is to be human, to face and overcome the trials familiar to us all. He chose not to stay apart and aloof from those he made, but lived amongst us. That should bring comfort to us knowing that the God we know and love, walked amongst us and would never ask us to endure anything he was not prepared to himself. True happiness is union with the living God.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.