Wednesday, July 30, 2008

“NO POWER TO COMFORT A TROUBLED HEART” - CROSS PURPOSES 127

“NO POWER TO COMFORT A TROUBLED HEART”

Hi Guys,

Recently we spent a week of annual vacation at Surfers Paradise. Every time we are there we go walking along the walkway behind the beach. Just south of Surfers there is a little monument – better, memorial stone – and each time I’m there I spend a few moments sitting on the bench in front of it. It’s simple, it’s dignified…and very sad.

The memorial stone has been placed there to remember all those who have lost their lives to drugs, and all those who have been affected by the loss of such a loved one.

On the stone there is a little saying:
DRUGS GAVE YOU WINGS, THEN THEY TOOK AWAY YOUR SKY.

And just below it a simple sentence:
WORDS HAVE NO POWER TO COMFORT A TROUBLED HEART.

I always find that saying about drugs profound; “Drugs gave you wings, then they took away your sky”. And then each time I weep a little bit inside for the conviction that a troubled heart cannot be comforted. What on earth, or in heaven, can it be like to have a belief or a world-view such that no word can ever bring comfort?

Christians are often ignorant and can behave badly but the followers of Jesus Christ do know a bit about comfort. Some examples:

“Comfort, comfort my people” says the Lord. IS:40
“The word become flesh and lived among us” (pitched his tent in the middle of our mess) John 1:14
“God loved the world so much he gave his only Son” John 3:16
“I will not leave you desolate…” John 14:18
“The Comforter (the Holy Spirit) will come” John 15:26
“Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ” Romans 8:39

Easy words. Easily spoken words. Welcomed by one with faith. Nevertheless, I have to remember that for those facing mindless tragedy, lives out of control, meaningless death and bitter experience, it usually feels like no comfort is available.

Certainly we are almost always left with ‘not understanding’ – either the circumstances, or God’s place in it. Offering easy comfort in those circumstances can be a source of infuriating exasperation or simply desolating.

So where is the comfort? That God knows and is near. Felt? Rarely! Known in the Spirit? Yes! Because we know the one who entered into our skin, and our sin, we also know the Shepherd is here and his sheep hear his voice. And he gives permission to rage, to scream at the pain, to question from the broken depths. And in his arms we can weep. And be comforted.

Fred

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