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Thursday, 4 December 2014

Advent 4: Waiting to be comforted

Part of Jesus' job description is a comforter. He says that he has been sent "to bind up the broken hearted." (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18-21) Healing hurting hearts was - and is - his mission; it was his reason for coming and it is what he is in the business of doing today. 

The Jesus that we see in the Bible is a man who is familiar with sorrow. He does not stand on the edge of human hurt. He is not a distant God who stands unmoved and observes us crying with cold and hardened heart. He wades right in and lives among us. He embraces the mess of life as a human being. He experiences the fullness of its joys and its pains. He walks amongst those who grieve and hurt and get angry. He kneels beside Martha and Mary in the dirt to weep with them over the death of their brother. (John 11:35) He is moved by compassion for the crowds of people who wander the streets. (Matthew 9:36) He stops what he is doing comfort a bereaved mother because his heart is pained by her loss. (Luke 7:11-16)

God's heart of compassion is perfectly revealed in his Son, Jesus. He is the Father of Compassion, the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3) He longs to be welcomed in to our hurt. Answers still do not come easily: comfort is not an instantaneous experience; grief is not immediately stopped. But God is present in the middle of our pain. My anger often prevents me from acknowledging this. I am so busy being mad at Him that I refuse the comfort that is offered. I won't let God share my grief with me because I'm too busy blaming him for causing it. I am waiting to be comforted and yet I lash out at the one who tries to do it. But Jesus is persistent. Faithful. Unchanging. He will comfort us. If only we would let him.

Reflection: Father of compassion, I pray that I would know you in the midst of everything that today brings. I choose to acknowledge you in pain and in joy, in sorrow and in laughter. You are the comforter. Do not let me forget it. Do not let me cut you off from what I am going through. Do not let me block you out from my struggle, my questions, my doubt. I welcome you in today. I ask for your comfort today, for myself and for this world which so desperately needs it. Help me to know you as the comforter that you are. Amen. 

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