Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. —Isaiah 40:1 ESV (Revelation 21:5 ESV)
I made biscuits this morning. They were good. Real good. I love biscuits. I love how they taste and how they are tied to geography of my life. Every culture has its own inexpensive, salty flour cake. Ours is the southern biscuit, and it’s the best. I’m teaching my son to make them. Take flour, some fat, salt, a little something to make it rise, mix it with some buttermilk and you have something that is delicious and carries some history of the place I live. Biscuits are my comfort food. They make me happy. Biscuits solve problems. If I were to get a tattoo it might read, “Make biscuits, not war…and grits, make grits too…and please tell me we have local honey, heritage bacon, and Chilton County peaches.” In Hebrew. Probably too long for a tattoo.
But alas, as great as a good biscuit is, it can’t solve everything. There are times when even biscuits will not comfort me. Where to turn then? It is surprising how much the Bible talks about comfort, shocking how often the God of creation gently says to his people, “Comfort.” Look at 2 Corinthians 1:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of allcomfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for yourcomfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. —2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV (emphasis mine)
It’s all over the Bible! Why? Because we need it and we need it often. We need to be comforted when our sins overwhelm us and the fiery darts of accusations let fly by the Evil One bury deep. Be comforted because the record of your debt has been canceled, set aside, nailed to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14). When we run from him and find ourselves where we should not be he is ready to welcome us home as children (Luke 15:20). Be comforted.
We need a word of comfort when life seems overwhelming. It so often feels out of control! We need to be comforted that he is sovereign, that no force can stand against Him (Romans 8:31), that there is no where we can go that he is not present (Psalm 139:7-8) and fighting for our good (Romans 8:28)! He is the rock that the storms of life cannot crush! We are invited to hide beneath his sheltering wing (Ruth 2:12, Matthew 23:37). We need his comfort when all seems lost. When we find ourselves traveling through the valley of the shadow of death he is guiding and speaking his love to us (Psalm 23). We long to feel full, satisfied, and complete. That is what we are looking for. Imagine for a second that you were designed by a great artist. Imagine he made you for a reason and a purpose. What if you were made to only be satisfied when you loved him and knew deeply that you were loved by him. What if biscuits, ice cream, careers, spouses, children and other good things will never be enough? What if we are asking these things to do something for us they can only do partially and only for a moment? We need something better.
True, lasting comfort is found nowhere in this world apart from the God who spoke it into existence. Not even in biscuits. In his embrace there is shelter and comfort and love eternal.
Chris Culver is pastor of Birmingham Community Church.