Thanks to Adam, life in this world is hard.
Her son died in the womb. His son died while playing in the yard. Her brother fatally overdosed on drugs. Their children were murdered by jihadists while helping sick children. She was beaten by her husband. She was raped. He was fired from his job for refusing to let women publicly teach the Bible to men. She got cancer. A tick bit him, and now his joints feel like fire. His insides are literally dissolving. His adult children refuse to repent and believe the gospel, and so be saved from the wrath of God. His daughter’s heart failed, leaving her cold and lifeless. She is barren.
What do you do when life punches you in the mouth, kicks you in the gut, or slams you in the kneecaps? You can’t breathe; despair is creeping up all around, threatening to drown you.
In pride, it is quite easy to seek comfort in what the world can offer us. Such things are tangible, and can be obtained in our own strength. Masturbation. Pornography. Fornication. Drinking yourself into oblivion. Buying a dog. Working out until you throw up. Shooting enough rounds that the target is but a memory, shredded into pieces of paper sand. Punching chumps in the throat. Playing the guitar until your finger tips are blood fountains. Painting every landscape east of the Mississippi. Hiking every mountain west of the Mississippi. Biking every inch of asphalt in New Zealand. Jumping on a mare and ceaselessly riding for the horizon.
In our distress, these comforting pursuits available to us beckon and call like sweet ladies or hardy blood-brothers.
Clearly, some of the things I listed are in and of themselves bad, while others are in and of themselves good. But a proud heart that looks to them as its source of comfort from the pain of a cursed world renders them all defiled. Such a proud heart rebelliously seeks self-sufficiency, and independence from its God.
Christian, born again brother, it is impossible for you to be truly comforted by anything you can secure for yourself in this world. Tempted you will be, but resist you must. Through the tears, through the anguish, through the tight chest, through the anger, resist temptation. Comfort, truly satisfying and sustaining comfort, is available to you in abundance, but only in your God through faith. He is the sure Comforter of the heavy-laden and downtrodden. Your King, strong enough to flood the earth with the blood of his enemies, is tender enough to hold the mangled through it all, to guide the lame through the valley of the shadow of death. Your Savior, who knows the pains and disappointments of this cursed world, holds all your prayers dear, and mediates on your behalf in heaven, from the throne.
When the sweet ladies call and the hardy blood-brothers beckon, listen instead to the voice of your God. In faith, sit at his feet in the reading of his Word. Listen to him there, and there find encouragement. Listen to him there, and trust what he says. See there, in the Word, the cross of your King, the passion that led to resurrection glory. Speak to your God in faith-filled prayer. Tell him of the blows. Rejoice in his sovereign goodness. Thank him for salvation. Ask your Father to carry you, by his Spirit, down this road of suffering to the glory ahead. Ask him to strengthen you to bear the cross in pursuit of the crown. Look at the brethren in the gathered assembly, and know the Lord of lords, the Good Shepherd, is faithful, without fail, to them as well. Hear them sing. Hear them amen. See them eat the Supper. Know the grace of God.
Christian, your God is ever providing for you and protecting you. In your God is a well of comfort whose depth dwarves the galaxies. In your distress, bloodied and battered, turn your face to the God who in eternity past determined to set his face upon you in favor, like the spring day sun upon the meadow.