home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > 17th December > The Art of Comfort

THE ART OF COMFORT

Pastors come in different varieties which is why the term pastoral conjures different ideas in the minds of different people. A pastor is like the hand that is placed in the glove of a ministry position which then leads to that glove taking a certain shape of the pastor’s strengths, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Over time, if the partnership between a pastor and a congregation endures, that pastor will also be shaped by the needs and demands of those whom God has called them to shepherd. And if both that pastor and that congregation are particularly blessed by God, the breadth of the needs and demands of a growing congregation will be attended to by pastors rather than the unrealistic expectation of them being met be a pastor. But there are times when a pastor is called upon by the broader community to care for that broader community in those times of severe adversity resulting from some tragedy. Floods, bush-fires, transport disasters (air/sea/road), military incidents, famine, are just some broader community demands for pastoring that come to mind as examples. More often than not, the type of person that God equips to enter these tragedies is one who has been shaped by God through having to deal with their own tragedies. In these instances the pastoral glove takes the shape of a chaplain. A chaplain’s principal function is comfort. In writing to the Corinthians after a particularly painful series of events, the tragedy-seasoned apostle Paul was able to comfort those he was ministering to because he himself had been the beneficiary of comfort from God through others. Notice how many times he refers to comfort in just five verses of the opening chapter of Second Corinthians- 

¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
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 your comfort, 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.
Second Corinthians 1:3-7

 

COMFORTING

Chaplains generally minister outside of their church community yet on behalf of their church community. They minister the love and comfort of God through Christ to those who are grappling with the early stages of sudden grief. They become a listening ear, a hand to be held, the bearer of immediate aid, and a conduit for other practical services. They represent the God who has suffered and entered into our world of suffering, loss, and pain (as Paul stated to the Corinthians 2Cor. 1:3-7). The most effective chaplains are those who have earned the trust of those they are called upon to comfort. This is why they can be found in football clubs, schools, and certain workplaces. (It is my hope that as our church continues to develop we will have numbers of representatives from our church serving as chaplains in these various community hubs who can offer hope and comfort in times of tragedy being experienced within these clubs/schools/workplaces.)

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you,
as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.
Second Corinthians 7:6-7

 

GOOD GRIEF

Unlike animal life, all of the aspects of human life are not instinctive. We humans have a lot to teach each other about being a fully-formed human being who is capable of love, bearing responsibility, living sacrificially for others, developing spiritual intimacy with God, worshiping, interacting courteously and respectfully with others especially those different from us, and parenting as a father or mother the next generation. Along the way of life’s path as we each learn these skills, there will be the inevitable need to also learn how to process loss. This will involve the loss of something precious, a loved one, a dream, a love. Dealing with such losses involves grieving. Ministers of comfort help those grieving to grieve well. They patiently listen as the grieving one expresses their disbelief at their loss, then their anger at someone (anyone will do) who should be or could be blamed, their regrets, then their overwhelming sadness. The minister of comfort shows the grieving that tears and sadness at their loss is both normal and healthy. They introduce them to the concept of their new normal and help them to understand that things will never be same again, and that feeling sad whenever they think of their loss is a part of their new normal. Without this shepherding, a griever’s remaining relationships can be strained beyond acceptable limits, and their use of food/alcohol/seclusion can become unhealthy for them physically/emotionally/spiritually. This is why chaplains are so valuable today. Chaplains are guides of good grief.

¶ So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:1-4

 

THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

In the times of our deepest anguish, God is “the God of all comfort” (2Cor. 1:3). He is the One who understands our pain, our loss, our sadness. He is the One gives meaning to each of these. It is this God who not only promises to comfort all those who turn to Him in worshipful surrender, but He is the One who heals wounded souls so that they can be used by Him as agents of His soul-healing comfort to others. I am aware that there are many in our church who have experienced soul-healing comfort from God and that their tears of sadness in the process are more often than not good for our souls. Most of these ministers of comfort will never be seen on our stage or behind our pulpit, but I can also assure you that those who are regularly ministering from our pulpit are indeed recipients of the God of all comfort’s soul-healing comfort.

¶ Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father,
who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 
comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
Second Thessalonians 2:16-17

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

2 Comments

  1. Alan

    Excellent thoughts, Andrew, especially in the light of the Devonport tragedy two days ago. Most of us need help in knowing how best to reach out and show God’s love to grieving neighbours and friends.

    Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Yes Andrew and Alan.
    The God of all comfort.
    So many things go thru my mind. Like, the gift and ability to walk next to a person and comfort those in need, in pain, in distress who feel like their soul is being ripped apart and – even those who are waiting so eagerly to be with their Lord. Sometimes you come across a person, ‘God ordained’ who has that ‘gift’ of listening and giving comfort, bringing peace to those in distress. True you can find some in the hospitals, in churches, chaplains and pastors – and – others ‘just along the road of life’.
    It made me think of the words that you really never know another person until you have walked in their shoes awhile, which can stop us from getting sidetracked. To understand another’s pain while you look on, can only be guided by the Spirit, the Comforter who has come to stay. It is He who can stop us from being unwise in our reactions and words – on occasions where we know we have failed because we are at a loss for words at the time. We truly need Him!
    If I look back and we all can, to various happenings and experiences in our lifetime, I can only say that the Lord holds us by our hand and leads us thru it all. In this way we can comfort those who we meet who are in need…as He is the God of all comfort and healing…

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

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It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

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