Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Joy of Comforting (Others)

The book of Job teaches us many lessons. One of the most significant lessons is not found until the closing statements in the very last chapter. In Job 42, Job has repented of ever having challenged God as to “why” he suffered. God, in fact, never told Job why. Instead, when Job discovered who God REALLY is, his own questions regarding his circumstances paled in comparison with the glory and majesty of the Almighty. Though Job suffered much, he never gave up on his faith. In fact, God restored Job, not through “things” but through bringing comfort to others! Perhaps the most significant verse in the entire book is Job 42:10:

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.[1]

When Job finally took his eyes off of himself and his own physical distress and focused on the spiritual distress of his three friends…then God restored his good fortune that doubled his first situation! Job achieved JOY through COMFORTING others! So can we!

There is nothing in life more invigorating than comforting another person in their distress. Opportunities to comfort others will be remembered…with joy when they are done and with sorrow when they are not. Mark Twain put it this way:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away
from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.[2]

In the end, though, we must understand that true joy is elusive. Like happiness, it is a byproduct of the acts of one in total disregard of self. Joy cannot be obtained until it is given away. It can only be found when we quit seeking it. Joy is only received when we seek it, not for ourselves, but for others. Like Job, we must cease the focus upon circumstance and turn totally to the gratifying work of comforting others. There is an unlimited supply of people lacking in the much needed comfort of the gospel. C. S. Lewis reflects:

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.[3]

Our Lord put it best;

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.[4]

Let us go and do likewise and we will “find JOY in the morning!”

[1]The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2000, 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers, 1300 Crescent Street, Wheaton, IL 60187, USA. All rights reserved. Job 42:10 [Emphasis added – RM]
[4]The Holy Bible – English Standard Version, op. cit. Luke 4:18-19

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