Monday evening, Ariel and I, along with all of the adults of Rose Creek Village, came together for a mandatory, last-minute meeting called by the leaders in the village. We were given some terrible news: one of the families who had been living in the village for many years had decided that they were going to leave.
Noah broke the news to us, explaining what was going on. Nathanael got up, wept openly, and encouraged us to love them, and to not act out of our emotions, but to really try to hear God for them.
Everyone’s hearts were broken, and the air was heavy with sorrow. We love these people dearly, and can’t stand to see them go. But we have to trust in the goodness and wisdom of God.
Shammah mentioned that he wished he could be a better comfort to everyone, and as he said it, the word comfort seemed to reverberate in my head. As I sat there listening, directly behind the people speaking up front, from my angle, was a banner hanging on the wall which read, “Take heart my friends, the Lord is with us.”
I wondered, where does our comfort come from? How will we be comforted?
And I realized that true comfort does not come through a change in our circumstances for the better, or by everything becoming happy again, the sun rising, the birds singing, people staying. True comfort comes through being with Christ.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2 Cor 1:3–4
The greek word for comfort in that verse, paraklesis, comes from the words para (near, beside), and kaleo (to call) — literally, to call near to us. The very idea we have of comfort is that of someone coming close, a hug, a comforting arm across the shoulders, being close.
It is the presence of God which comforts us and gives us hope. It shouldn’t be the outward things, as they will always change, but we should be with God and live in his comfort.
You can find the acting out of this by reading stories of the people who suffer for the faith (you can find some simple versions of these stories at http://martyrsinmyownwords.wordpress.com), where these amazing people are comforted in the most horrendous circumstances. What is it that gets them through the excruciating tortures and the threat of death? They lived in Christ.
But the comfort doesn’t stop there.
Later on that evening, Tabach went over to check on the families in that household. He said goodbye and hugged the necks of the brother and sister who were planning on leaving. In their minds they thought that because they were leaving we had become their enemies, and seemed surprised that anybody was even talking to them. More people showed up to tell them goodbye, and the love of God was being poured out on this dear brother and sister, illuminating and comforting.
The second part of that verse in 2 Corintians is:
…that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2 Cor 1:4, NAS
By being with God and receiving His comfort, we are enabled to share that same comfort in the same way. In this instance we saw that as people drew near to the afflicted, just as we had God draw near to us, that same connection of love flowed through, and God opened eyes, broke the power of deception, and offered comfort by drawing the afflicted back to be with him.
They’re not leaving now. They have been restored, and God showed us again that He truly does work all things together for good.