Comfort in The Old Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis

When trial after trial hits, each trial compounding on the previous one, it becomes very easy for a whirlwind of anxiety, frustration, and depression to sweep you away. In the midst of all the chaos, you realize what you long for is comfort—to feel a calm to the storm within and around you if even for a moment long enough to reassure you that somehow everything will be okay.

Again and again throughout Scripture and still today, God comforts His people. In the Greek and Hebrew languages, the word “comfort” takes on various meanings from compassion to consolation and ease. In the Old Testament, “comfort” appears when His people are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or afraid.

“In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.” ~Psalm 94:19

God comforts us and gives us support, encouragement, and mercy when our thoughts and circumstances seem to consume us. In Psalm 94:19, the Hebrew word for “multitude” is “rôb,” meaning “abundance.” The Hebrew word for “comforts” is “tanchûm tanchûm tanchûmâh” and means “compassion, solace, and consolation.” “Delight” translates into “shâ‛a‛,” or shaw-ah’,” which means “in good acceptation; to look upon with complacency, please, or amuse.” As a person who tends to overthink, it is far too easy for negative thoughts to overwhelm me, but as the psalmist said, in the middle of all my fear and doubt and anxiety, His compassion pleases my soul.

Three verses later, the psalmist declared in Psalm 94:22, “But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.” “Defence” here comes from the Hebrew word “miώgâb,” or “mis-gawb’,” which means “a refuge or a place in Moab that was a high fort or tower,” and “rock” comes from the Hebrew “tsûr tsûr,” or “tsoor tsoor,” which indicates a rock or defense that is sharp, mighty, and strong. “Refuge” comes from the Hebrew “machăseh machseh,” or “makh-as-eh’ makh-seh’,” and means “shelter, hope, place of refuge, and trust.” God is literally our strong and mighty tower—the place of refuge where we find hope, shelter, and trust. With both of these verses in account, not only does God comfort us and give us encouragement and mercy when we war with the thoughts in our mind, but He also goes to war for us and gives us a place in His Presence where we can find shelter from the overwhelming battle and where we can find hope and learn to trust in Him.

Looking at the chapters before and after Psalm 94 helps us understand the context of this chapter’s message. The heading for Psalm 94 in my Apostolic Study Bible says, “God avenges His people.” Psalm 93 discusses the “supremacy of the Lord” and how He is clothed with majesty and strength. The three psalms immediately following Psalm 94 express praise, worship, and celebration of God as our Great King and Creator Who eternally reigns over all the universe. If we look at these chapters collectively, we understand that we must praise God for His greatness and majesty because of who He is—He is everlasting and mighty, and He fights for us and is merciful to us as the Judge of the earth. He is our Creator, after all. It is comforting to know and understand that our Creator truly cares and has compassion for us.

God’s Word associates comfort with praise again in Isaiah 49:13:

“Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”

The prophet Isaiah is instructing God’s creation to sing for joy and triumph because God consoles His people and gives mercy to those who are depressed and poor. “Sing” here comes from the Hebrew word “rânan,” which means “to shout or cry aloud for joy or to rejoice for triumph.” “Comforted” is from the Hebrew word “nâcham,” meaning “to console or to ease,” and “afflicted” comes from the Hebrew “‛ânîy,” or “aw-nee’,” which means “depressed in mind or circumstances, lowly, needy, or poor.” Here, we see again how great our God is and that He is always there to comfort us and care for our needs, showing us mercy and compassion and love. But it is not enough to merely give this instruction once or remind God’s people only one time of His comfort and mercy. In Isaiah 52:9, we see yet another command to praise:

“Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.”

We often have good reason behind our despair, for life often comes with an abundance of pain, loss, and suffering. But Isaiah understood that God’s people should praise Him even when we’re in those low places of sorrow. We sing praises to Him, and He comforts and redeems us. We may be desolate waste places, but God has bought us with His Blood and delivered us from all sin and sorrow. Our world is unfair and filled with strife and darkness, but God has overcome the world and given us His Presence and Word to be our comfort.

I hope this brief analysis of comfort in the Old Testament has blessed you. Stay tuned for part two on studying comfort in the Old Testament in which we’ll cover more of Psalms and Isaiah and how we can find comfort in God’s strength and provision. For an encouraging song to remind you of the Lord’s greatness and comfort in the meantime, check out “The Isaiah Song” by The Urshan College Choir.

“Sing, sing! O barren land,

Water is coming to the thirsty.

Though you are empty, I am the Well.

Draw from me; I will provide.”

~The Isaiah Song

Constant

In the age of 2020 in which everything seems to be rapidly spiraling out of control, it’s often difficult to find comfort to still our nerves and calm our anxious minds.

As a recent college grad, my conversations with God often involve questions about my future and wonderings about life, meaning, and purpose in a world that chaos consumes. There’s so much noise in this world that tries, and sometimes succeeds, to cancel out those quiet moments—quiet moments to focus on God, His Word, and what He wants. Frankly, I’d love a pair of noise-canceling headphones to shut up those obnoxious thoughts sometimes.

This summer, I read through Genesis and studied the first women of the Bible, and as I read one passage in particular, I came across a small nugget of revelation that gave me a bit of comfort I hadn’t expected. After the Flood and after Noah and his family left the Ark on Mt. Ararat, God made a promise:

Genesis 8:21-22

21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

When I finished reading these verses, I couldn’t help but feel comfort in the fact that a promise God made near the beginning of time after the Great Flood is a promise that has lasted for all time, the evidence of which I can see simply by looking out my window and into my front yard. Every time I feel the heat of summer and the cold wind whipping in my face in fall and winter, every time I see the leaves changing colors from green to red and orange or new flowers budding on barren tree limbs, and every time I see the sun rise and fall, I am reminded of God’s promise of constant comfort and stability in Him, knowing that while everything else is falling apart, I can find comfort in His Faithfulness.

At the beginning of time, He made the promise that from that moment forward there would always be the changing seasons on earth. It would be cold in the winter and hot in the summer. There would always be day, and there would always be night. While other things on earth might change, these things would never cease. And here we are near the end of time, and all we have to do to see the evidence of God’s promise is to look outside, and there it is. We find our source of comfort, our constant in life in Him and His Word. He is faithful and true.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, oh God.

Worship Music Is My Jam!

Searching for some new worship tunes to listen to in the car or at home or to choose for worship service at church? Look no further. Here’s a list of 12 of my favorite worship songs from various artists all on my best Spotify playlists:

All Things New by Travis Greene

This Is Revival by Brittani Scott

The Cry by William McDowell

My Worship by Phil Thompson

Looking Up by Nashville Life Music

Have Your Way by Jabari Johnson

Able to Do Anything by James Wilson

The Blessing (Gospel Revamp) by Elevation Worship

Saved by Eddie James

Dance In The Rain by Todd Dulaney

There Is A Name by Covenant Worship

Bless the Lord by Anthony Brown

Give these a listen via the links above, and let me know what worship songs are on your favorites list!

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” ~Ephesians 5:19

Seasons of Change

God is a poet—really. His Word is chock full of the most poetic verses ever written, and some of the most beautiful poetry exists in my favorite passage of Scripture below.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

(1) “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

(2) A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

(3) A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

(4) A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

(5) A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

(6) A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

(7) A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

(8) A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I can’t pick one favorite verse from the Bible because, quite frankly, there are too many poignant verses from which to choose! But the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes chapter three is my favorite passage for its poetic beauty and the message it carries. No matter what season of life you’re in, there’s a new season coming that will bring birth, growth, healing, and laughter.

Yes, there are bad seasons in life—far too many it seems—but every bad season has an end (looking at you, 2020). Unfortunately, even some good seasons come to an end, a fact which yours truly does not appreciate because change is hard. When things are great, I want them to stay that way, but then life happens, and my happy, great little life gets uprooted and everything is different. That’s why I take comfort in Ecclesiastes chapter three.

There may be death, but there’s also birth.

There may be a season of uprooting things, but there’s also a season of planting and growth.

There may be times when we can’t hold back the tears, but joy comes in the morning!

With the change of seasons comes the promise and hope of new growth and life. It may be an unsettling time right now, but we can rest in the hope of new life in Jesus and peace in His Presence.

Hello, all! Welcome to my blog!

“I can’t believe it. You finally have a blog!”

I know, I know. It’s taken me a while to get to this point, but here I am. There are many young Christian women who have personal blogs and Bible study blogs and fashion blogs that I’ve read, which discouraged me for a while from starting one because, well, they’re everywhere. Blogging is popular and hard work—time-consuming work—and with such a crowded pool of spectacular blogs to peruse for inspiration and encouragement, it seemed somewhat pointless to me to spend so much time blogging when I would only be adding to the plethora of Christian blogs. Why does it matter what I have to say? How would my blog be any different from the thousands of Christian blogs out there? Who would even read my blog aside from a kind few?


And after over a year of debating and pushing the idea to the back of my mind, I realized now is a better time than any to start blogging because it isn’t about me or how many voices are out there—it’s about doing everything I can with what God has given me to glorify Him and bless others.

This has been a tumultuous year, but it’s pushed me to do things I never thought I would accomplish. I began this year with hope and optimism, and the pandemic came along and nearly destroyed every ounce of hope and optimism I had left. If this year has helped me understand anything, it’s that nothing is certain and nothing stays the same except for God. Of course, I already knew that, but sometimes it takes a trial to help you grasp truth on a deeper level. During quarantine, I had a LOT of time to examine myself and determine whether I was doing everything I could for His Kingdom. Was I doing everything I could to use the ability God gave me to write for Him in the time we have on earth? The answer was a blunt “not really.” I’m a fiction writer. Most of my creative writing classes focused on fiction, and 99% of everything I’ve ever written or thought of writing is fiction. I’ve probably got more than fifty fiction projects—mostly historical fiction—stuffed in my brain, waiting for me to put them in print, but I never have. The online literary magazine Short Fiction Break published my short story “Outer Darkness” this summer (thank you, Jesus!), I started an author website (prematurely, maybe, but hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere), and well, that’s as far as I’ve gotten as a fiction writer.

My primary goal as a writer used to be to write complex characters that struggled with the human condition in difficult circumstances to show how much we need God and to move readers to evaluate themselves and their own relationships with God. That sounds great, sure, but for me, it didn’t seem like it would be enough. In the back of my mind was a voice that kept saying, “You can do more.” And then there was that other thought I’d pushed back there about starting a blog, and I told God I wasn’t sure about it. But I kept going back to it.

Breathe Pray Repeat (BPR) became the name I chose because it speaks to one of my coping mechanisms when things get tough and emotions become overwhelming. Step back, breathe, pray about it, and repeat the process. In essence, I did just that about this blog, and now that we’re 10 months into 2020, I believe God has finally given me the green light to move forward with it. Maybe a blog isn’t a big deal, and maybe it doesn’t seem that impressive in comparison to writing actual books (which I haven’t given up on, by the way), but a book that glorifies God and delves into complex themes takes years to develop. I knew I shouldn’t wait that long to finally produce something worthwhile when I could be writing something that glorifies Him right now.

So, here it is—the beginning of something I hope draws readers closer to Him and maybe even understand ourselves and others better. BPR will have Bible study articles, discussions of biblical themes and principles, posts about living as a Christian in our crazy world, and explorations of the culture and our identity all with the sole focus of reflecting His Glory. I have a few posts lined up under the theme “comfort,” which is something we all might be needing a little more of this year, including some brief analyses of the word “comfort” in the Old and New Testaments. If you’ve made it this far (may God bless you and your children and your children’s children!), feel free to message me any specific words or biblical concepts you would like me to research and write about and especially any post topics you might like me to write that focus on keeping the faith while going to college. I would LOVE for BPR to be a blessing to young people, particularly, because as a young adult, I know that the high school and college years are an essential period in becoming the kind of person and Christian you want to be.

Thank you for reading this first post on BPR, and I pray the rest of your day and week goes well. If you want to know about all of my future posts, follow my blog by email and stay tuned for what’s coming later this week when we begin the first post in the “comfort” series.

God Bless,

Caitlin

Verse of the Day:

“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” ~Romans 12:12 (KJV)