Comfort in The New Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis

“2020 has been consistent,” a friend of mine recently said.

It began crazy, became wild, and is wrapping up in a confusing maelstrom of insanity. This past week has proven just that.

As my family and I went into election week, COVID hit us and many we know. At first, it felt like things were collapsing. There’s a picture somewhere on the internet of a room on fire and a person standing numbly in the midst of it, unable to stop the chaos and practically accustomed to it. That’s where I was at the beginning of the week. I had planned on writing more posts for BPR by Sunday, but COVID upended my plans.

And now insanity has upended the US election. And here I sat, trying to catch up on posts that I was already supposed to have finished and posted for everyone to read so I could move into the next post series I’ve been preparing. But everything has a purpose. I began to wonder. What if I wasn’t supposed to finish these posts by earlier this week? What if, in the middle of all the craziness of post-election day, someone somewhere needs this reminder of God’s comfort now instead? What if the crazy things that happen in our life are orchestrated by God with a purpose? If God is the orchestrator of our life, and He is, then nothing happens that God does not know about and allow for a divine reason. This means He is in control. This means He hasn’t left us alone. This means that no matter what else happens, Jesus is our only hope.

We may be stressed to tears over struggling to do the things God has called us to do in this pandemic-obsessed and divided nation. We may be saddened over the loss of loved ones due to COVID or the news of loved ones infected with the virus, but our circumstances do not place us at a disadvantage.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” ~Matthew 5:4 (KJV)

Despite our sadness and struggles, we are blessed. “Blessed” translates to makarios in the original Greek translation of this verse, which means “supremely blest, fortunate, well off, happy (-ier).” We are a fortunate people even though we mourn. “Mourn” comes from the Greek entheō (pronounced “pen-theh’-o”) and means “to grieve (the feeling or the act); bewail/wail.” We may be grieving and wailing in our grief, but we are still well off. Why? Because God calls us near to Him. “Comforted” in this verse comes from the Greek word parakaleō, which means “to call near, that is, invite; invoke by imploration, hortation, or consolation; beseech, call for; be of good comfort; give exhortation; intreat.” In other words, those who grieve are blessed because God shall give them comfort and consolation. Even though we grieve and mourn, we are still fortunate because in those moments of grief, God calls us near to Him and comforts us. Therefore, even in the midst of our grief, we can find joy in knowing God will invite us closer to Him. We have hope in Jesus. That He is our Hope is not the only lesson I discovered when studying comfort in the New Testament.

[16] “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

[18] I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” ~John 14:16, 18 (KJV)

God, our Comforter, does not only draw us to him, but He comes to us! In John 14:16, “Comforter” translates in the Greek to paraklētos, meaning “intercessor, consoler, advocate.” “Comfortless” in verse 18 comes from the Greek word orphanos, which means “bereaved (orphan), that is, parentless, fatherless.” Jesus is speaking in these verses, telling His disciples that He would send an intercessor or advocate to dwell with them forever. He said again that He would not forsake them or leave them without comfort or a Father but that He would come to them. My Apostolic Study Bible says the following about these verses: “While Jesus would soon leave His disciples physically, this “Spirit of truth,” which was now with them and was invisible to the world, would dwell within them…. The Spirit that indwelt Jesus was the Comforter. He would not forsake them, leaving them…as ‘orphans,’ but would ‘come to’ them.” In verse 18, “I will come” is from the Greek word erchomai that is only used in the present and imperfect tense, meaning that Jesus wasn’t just telling the disciples then that He wouldn’t leave them but that this still applies to us today. Through the Presence of God’s Spirit, He comes to us and dwells with us. We find comfort in the Presence of God, which in turn gives us strength.

“Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” ~Acts 9:31 (KJV)

Here, through Barnabas’ testimony, God calmed the disciples and helped them trust Saul (who had been persecuting them before his conversion). Now that their persecutor was one of them and was preaching the Gospel, they had some rest because God’s Spirit, the Comforter, gave them rest and edified them. In the comfort of the Spirit, they boldly served God and grew. “Rest” in Greek is eirēnē (pronounced “i-rah’-nay). This means “peace, prosperity, quietness.” We translate “edified” from the Greek word oikodomeō (pronounced “oy-kod-om-eh’-o”), which means “to be a house builder, that is, construct or confirm, build up, embolden.” The comfort of the Holy Ghost, God’s Spirit, gives us peace and prosperity, literally enabling us to build each other up, grow His Kingdom, and walk boldly in serving the Lord. Serving Him comes with a process, however, on which Matthew 9:20-22 sheds some light:

[20] “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

[21] For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

[22] But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”

The woman with the issue of blood teaches us a little about finding comfort in the process of serving God. According to the Greek translation, “issue of blood” (aihmorrheō, which is pronounced “hahee-mor-hreh’-o”) means “to flow blood, that is, have a haemorrhage.” For years, this woman suffered some form of bleeding, possibly internal, but she didn’t let her issue keep her down. “Came” in verse 20 translates to the Greek word proserchomai (pros-er’-khom-ahee), which means “to approach, that is, (literally) come near, visit, or (figuratively) worship.” “Touched” in the Greek haptomai (hap’-tom-ahee) means “to attach oneself to, that is, to touch.” She approached Jesus and attached herself to the hem, or border, of his robe because she believed that if she did so, that alone would heal and deliver her. We know that Jesus immediately turned around and, seeing her, declared that she could have courage (“comfort” in verse 22 is from the Greek word tharseō and means “to have courage, be of good cheer”). Why? Well, “faith” in verse 22 means “persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher) especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; assurance, belief” according to the Greek translation. This woman’s moral conviction, reliance on Jesus for healing, assurance in Him, and belief made her whole. She was completely healed and delivered that same hour. Her story teaches us that we can have comfort and courage knowing that if we worship God, draw near and attach ourselves to Him, rely on Him for assurance, and believe that He can do anything, then He will deliver us, protect us, preserve us, and save us.

There is comfort in the process. Isn’t it interesting that the Greek translation for “came” also means to worship? Imagine what would happen if we didn’t just come to Jesus but if we always came to Him in worship and praise! Living for God is often difficult when we let our flesh get in the way and when we let life’s disappointments discourage us, but we can find comfort in the process—we worship Him, we draw near to Him and push other things away, we rely on Him daily, and this brings us comfort. This makes us whole.

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