Comfort in The New Testament Part Two: A Brief Analysis

When I drive through Springfield, Missouri, I see a sign on East Sunshine that says, “Love God, love people—on purpose.”

Two basic commands in life are to love God and to love our fellow man. We love God because He first loved us, and with the love of God in us, we are able to love others. I believe this applies to other acts of love, such as comfort.

Last week, we covered how “comfort” in the New Testament relates to the theme that we have hope in Jesus because He calls us near to Him. This theme continues throughout the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 7:6 says, “Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” “Comforteth” comes from the Greek word parakaleō, which as you may recall from last week’s post means “to call near.” “Cast down” translates from the Greek word tapeinos (pronounced “tap-i-nos’”), which means “depressed, humiliated (in circumstances or disposition), of low degree (estate), lowly.” We know we are an unworthy and lowly people, and we are often in despair, but God calls the lowly near to Him.

Romans 15:4-5 (KJV)

4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.”

Paul is telling the Christians of the church of Rome that the Word of God was written to teach and instruct us in the doctrine. Here, “learning” in Greek is didaskalia, which means “instruction, doctrine, or teaching.” In fact, he says the endurance and constancy (which is from hupomonē, the Greek word for patience in this verse) and the comfort of the Scriptures gives us hope or confidence (according to the translation of hope in the Greek, which is elpis). In the next verse, Paul calls God the “God of patience and consolation.” Since God is the Word and the Word is with and is God, both He and His Word literally are our source of comfort and hope. And that source of comfort and hope endures forever. No matter what we may go through, we are never without the comfort of God and hope within His Word. But the comfort of God and the hope we have because of His comfort is not the only theme that accompanies this word in the New Testament.

Just as the love of God helps us love others, God comforts us so that we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (KJV)

3 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth in Christ.

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

God is our Father Who comforts us in every troublesome situation. Here, “comforteth” again means “to call near.” When burdens, trials, and afflictions persecute us, God calls us near to Him. However, He comforts us so that we might be able to receive strength from and confidence in Him as well as comfort others. We may suffer for striving to live righteously, but God gives us an excess of consolation. “Abound” and “aboundeth” here come from the Greek perisseuo, which means “to be in excess, abundance, to increase, and to remain.” Paul and the early church suffered greatly for serving Christ. My Apostolic Study Bible says this about this passage: “Paul and the church at Corinth had shared in Christ’s sufferings. God’s merciful deliverance of Paul from his tribulation served as an encouragement to the Corinthians that He would deliver them also.” When we suffer, we do so for the cause of Christ. Though our sufferings are in abundance, so is God’s comfort and mercy. He delivered Paul from difficulty to encourage others in the same way that He still delivers us today to encourage others. We experience difficulty and the comfort of the Lord so that we can learn how to be a comfort to others in their time of difficulty. So, not only do we receive comfort from God, but we receive comfort from one another.

On numerous occasions, the Lord commands His people through the apostles to comfort each other. In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, the apostle Paul instructs the church at Thessalonica to comfort each other with the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (KJV)

16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Again, “comfort” here comes from parakaleō. Another meaning of this word is “to exhort,” which means to encourage someone. In the Apostolic Study Bible, the notes for these verses discuss the church’s responsibility to “offer encouragement and comfort to those who are grieving,” for “the return of Christ means we do not need to grieve as those who are hopeless.” The next chapter contains two more commands to comfort:

1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14 (KJV)

11 “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”

We comfort one another by building up each other. “Edify” from the Greek word oikodomeō (pronounced “oy-kod-om-eh’-o”) means “to construct or (figuratively) confirm, build (up), embolden.” In verse 14, “comfort” comes from the Greek word paramutheomai (“par-am-oo-theh’-om-ahee”), which means “to relate near, that is (by implication), encourage, console.” These verses and the verses that follow contain several practical instructions (such as “pray without ceasing” in verse 17) to believers on how to live righteously and ethically so that we can make it to Heaven. Among these instructions is the command to encourage the “feebleminded,” that is the “little spirited” or “faint hearted” according to the translation of the original Greek word oligopsuchos (“ol-ig-op’-soo-khos”). We must support and give encouragement to those who are weary among us because God has done the same for us. We are nothing without God, and in the midst of trials, we cannot rely on ourselves for strength. God is our strength and comfort. If He does this all for us, then we should offer the same for others.

Some of the last messages about comfort in the New Testament speak of the church comforting each other. In the face of trials and persecution, the church stands united so long as we comfort and give strength to one another. As we well know, a house divided against itself cannot stand. In this time that the church is facing its fiercest opposition, we cannot afford to allow ourselves to become prejudiced toward each other and fail in our responsibility to lift our brothers and sisters up to God in prayer. The early church faced persecution from the enemy, and so Paul instructed them to encourage each other. Likewise, in these last days, the church is again facing persecution and opposition all over the world, but we still have that same command to be a comfort to each other. Our end goal—our ultimate goal is Heaven, and we work daily to live righteously so that we can all make it there.

As the children of God, we are never alone in our difficulties. As the Word teaches us about comfort, from the Old Testament to the New, we receive our strength and comfort from two places: from God and from the church. He comforts the weary so that we can comfort our weary fellow believers. He consoles the broken hearted so that the church can give consolation to the broken hearted. He calls us near to Him so that we can bind together with each other and lift up the depressed and hurting in our communities. His strength is our strength, His comfort is our hope, and our responsibility is to comfort each other with the news of eternal life through Him.

“You’re my brother, you’re my sister

So take me by the hand

Together we will work until He comes

There’s no foe that can defeat us

When we’re walking side by side

As long as there is love, we will stand.”

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.

Comfort in The Old Testament Part Two: A Brief Analysis

It’s 31 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and you’re sitting in your favorite comfy chair right in front of a warm fire. You’ve got fuzzy socks on, a thick blanket wrapped around you, and you’re holding a cup of fresh hot cocoa. There’s no noise, save for maybe the rustling of fall leaves in your front yard and the turn of pages in the book you’re reading. It’s the picture of comfort.

We think of comfort in many ways. For some, it’s the above scenario. Others might think of a fun dinner gathering with family and friends. I like lists—schedules, grocery lists, prayer lists, goal lists, etcetera. Lists give me a sense of security and comfort. If I see what I need to accomplish in writing, then it becomes more feasible to me. It helps me grasp a task and see its completion. But there are often moments when the need for comfort goes far beyond feeling cozy on a cold evening, having a fun chat with family, or planning out a task. When the homework or bills pile high or we’re in a dry wilderness that no one else understands, what we need goes beyond the physical, tangible world. When our spirit needs comforting, we must go to the Word of God.

“This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.” ~Psalms 119:50

Psalm 119 discusses meditation on the law of the Lord, or Scripture, and when we meditate on His Word, we learn to trust and find comfort in Him. The Hebrew word for “affliction” in verse 50 is ‛ŏnîy (pronounced “on-ee’”) and means “depression, misery, or trouble.” “Quickened” in Hebrew is châyâh (khaw-yaw’), meaning “to revive, nourish up, preserve, recover, restore to life, save alive, surely be whole.” Now, remember from the first word study post in this series that “comfort” in the Hebrew often translates to “consolation.” Here, the word for comfort in Hebrew is nechâmâh, similar to nâcham, which means “to console” in Isaiah 49:13. The psalmist in the above verse was depressed and troubled, but his misery did not consume him. Why? Because the Word of the Lord revived him, nourished him, restored him, and made him whole. This is our consolation when we have an overdue water bill, student loans piling up, groceries to buy, and a broken water heater to fix. This is our consolation when we have multiple essays and projects due while studying for exams. This is our consolation when we seem to crawl through the barren wilderness, enduring unexplainable grief and hopelessness. God’s Word declares He is with us, He will never forsake us, and that He will provide our every need. Our comfort during miserable circumstances is the hope we find in His Word. Even when we’re depressed, His Word pulls us out of that depression and nourishes and restores us. His Word gives us life and the strength to go on and endure.

“I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;

“But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name.” ~Isaiah 51:12, 15

God is the Comforter of His people. The note for Isaiah 51:12 in my Apostolic Study Bible states that “the Israelites should no longer fear Babylon because it will fade away.” In fact, the headline for chapter 51 is “Jerusalem’s Comfort.” In this chapter, God reminds His people that His righteousness and salvation are forever. We should not be afraid of mankind or things on earth because the moth and worm “shall eat them up,” and the earth will “wax old like a garment” (see Is. 51:6-8). There truly is a season to everything as Ecclesiastes chapter 3 says. In Isaiah 51:12, God tells His people that He is the One Who comforts and eases us and asks how anyone could be afraid of a mortal man who will die or of mankind who is brought forth as mere grass. In verse 15, He reminds us just Who He is. He is Jehovah Who is THE God Who literally split apart the sea when the people of Israel fled Egypt. “Hosts” translated from the Hebrew tsâbâ’ tsebâ’âh means “a mass of persons especially regularly organized for war, an army, and soldiers waiting upon war.” He is the LORD of an army! Man is nothing compared to God, and nothing compares to His greatness and strength and His mighty hand in battle!

When our needs go beyond the physical world and life weighs us down, God will provide us with strength, restore us, and lead an army against our enemy to fight our battles for us. Jesus is the true picture of comfort for the weary and troubled soul.

The next post in this series will be studying how the word “comfort” appears in the New Testament and what it means. Be sure to subscribe to receive a notification when “Comfort in the New Testament Part One: A Brief Analysis” goes live! I pray this word study of “comfort” in the Old Testament has blessed you and perhaps even compelled you to conduct “word” studies in the Word and dive deeper into Bible studying. In the meantime, here’s a beautiful song about God’s blessings (which Numbers 6:24-27 inspired) to help you find comfort in His Presence:

“The Lord bless you and keep you

Make His face shine upon you

And be gracious to you

The Lord turn His face toward you

And give you peace.”

~The Blessing (Gospel Revamp)

Everything Is 2020

In the first month of 2020, the world saw panic over a possible World War III in the Middle East, raging wildfires in Australia that endangered the koala bears, political turmoil in the US, and the beginnings of a global pandemic. Then we had the first cases of the new virus COVID-19 popping up in the States in late January/early February. Then came the hand washing and mask wearing suggestions from government and health officials. Then came social distancing guidelines, cancellations of public events, lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and a high unemployment rate. And just when we thought it couldn’t get more chaotic, then came social unrest.

Things this year have been, well, 2020. That is to say, it’s been crazy, and 2020 is now becoming a term for when things go haywire, off the rails, insane beyond all belief, and just when you think it couldn’t get worse, it does. The real disappointment is that everyone seems to have skipped the panic over murder hornets, which could have been delightfully entertaining during quarantine. But of course, despite discouraging news and events, we have access to the same good news that has existed since the beginning of time: there is a God, His Name is Jesus, He is THE God, and He is in control.

“But, Caitlin, it’s so easy to say that until you’re the one who’s feeling overwhelmed,” you might say.

It’s true that there are many things quite easy for us to say, and when the going gets tough, it gets tougher to truly believe those things. Chaotic conditions tend to throw rational thought into disarray until all that’s left is confusion and madness. Chaos is a state of utter confusion and disorder. Rationality is the state of being rational or being based in accordance with reason and logic. A confused and overwhelmed mind cannot sort together rational thoughts and lean on logic, while a rational mind relies on reason and logic during a time of chaos to separate feeling from fact. Though I tend to be a rational individual, even I often struggle with rationality in the midst of chaos.

Any time I feel overwhelmed, I’m like most people. I let my emotions and irrational thoughts run away with me for a minute while I try to sort through what I’m feeling. It’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when it doesn’t seem that there’s any end to the tunnel at all. That’s when I remove my feelings, set them aside, and separate what I feel from what I know.

Though I may feel worried, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, and even depressed, I remember what I know as fact. God says in His Word that He will never leave nor forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5). Well, of course, my feelings say it’s hard to believe that when I can’t hear an audible voice of God, and I can’t physically see God, and so it’s hard at times to feel like He’s really there. Then, my reason and what I know kicks in. God speaks to us through His Word. In fact, His Word is alive: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever” (Isaiah 40:8). He is His Word (see John 1:1-14), and any time I want to hear from Him and know He’s right here with me, all I have to do is pick up His Word and start reading.

Psalms 119:105 – “The word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Proverbs 30:5 – “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

We’ve heard many a song sing the truth that God knows every circumstance, and nothing catches Him by surprise. He sees all things and is in control in this desperate and trying time. His ways and thoughts are not ours but are higher than ours: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). So, even though I may feel overwhelmed and weary, I know He is right there and is in control of my circumstances and my life. Deuteronomy 31:8 states, “And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.”

Now, it is a gross understatement to simply say that “life is hard,” but it is perfectly okay and natural to feel sad and frustrated. We’re human, after all. Peter felt overwhelmed by the stormy waves of the sea around him, but God was right there to pull him up even though Peter lost focus for a moment (see Matthew 14:22-31). When Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to threaten his life, he fled into the wilderness and asked God to take his life, for he was “not better than [his] fathers” (see 1 Kings 19:1-8). God instead gave Elijah rest and food to strengthen him. Sometimes, we must allow ourselves time to feel and sort through our emotions, and while doing so, we must rest, study His Word, spend more time in His Presence, and remember that He is omnipresent and omniscient. He’s always there and knows all things.

I may not know everything, but what I know is that God does know it all. So, when everything is 2020 and messed up and seems like it’s falling apart, I can find comfort in knowing that God sees and knows everything that’s going on in my life and the world around me. He’s got the whole wide world in His hands. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches over me.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

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)