Points to Ponder: The Comforting Embrace That's Always There
Points to Ponder
The Comforting Embrace That's Always There
We were at Chik-Fil-A with our girls at lunchtime. Of course the play area is full of children climbing up and down, running in and out. Among them I noticed a little girl with a leg brace. She looked upset and somewhat confused in the midst of the chaos in that room. But there was her mom, kneeling before her, comforting her and encouraging her to calm down. I watched this girl and her mom for quite some time. In addition to the physical disability she had, she appeared to have some mental or emotional retardation as well. She could be volatile, easily upset. But her mom was consistently patient, quiet in spirit, and gentle in her responses.
I admired the woman's patience. I imagined that all day, everyday she was contending with the challenges of her daughter's condition and limitations. As this little girl would cycle through moods of being upset, even somewhat aggressive, to being more docile at the lunch table, she would wind up in her mommy's arms. One minute she's flailing and resisting her mother's direction; the next, she's seeking her embrace. She always found that ready embrace.
"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you..." (Isaiah 66:13)
In that passage God is addressing His rebellious "child" Israel. There are words of judgment throughout Isaiah, prophecies of punishment for their disobedience; yet in the end, God is there to embrace them and comfort them.
I observed this girl in the restaurant, so easily troubled. She would resist her mom at times. But she always had confidence - as I observed it - that her mother's love was unwavering and always there. God is a God of justice and righteousness. We often think of our Heavenly Father as a rather strict disciplinarian. And He can be. But His love is deeper than any love we have ever known for any person or from any person. He comforts and He holds us even as we flail around in the midst of a circumstance we don't understand. Like that little girl, who sought her mother's comforting embrace without hesitation, we can come to the Lord in like manner.
Our sin nature has given us a condition of disability and spiritual retardation. We often flail against God's direction and get upset and frustrated with a world that gets us down and brings hardship upon us. It's full of people with the same condition we have, and so we can get hurt and we can cause hurt.
The little girl reminded me of us. One minute she's resisting, even rejecting, her mother's loving guidance; then the next minute she's seeking her mother's arms. I wonder how often in the course of a week, or even a day, we do that to God? And yet He is faithful. He's not the one who moves away. We do.
I observed that mother's consistent patience. Perhaps she doesn't always do so well on some days. We look at a parent like her in a challenging situation and the sight is like a mirror before us. Could I be so patient and loving? Would that child do as well if I was her parent? We see a parent dealing with six little ones at a lunch table or on a playground, and we see an incredible balancing act of law and grace as she deals with the individual personalities and behaviors. "I think I'd lose it if I had to do that everyday," we say to ourselves.
But then, there's God. Our Heavenly Father isn't dealing with a brood of six whining, screaming immature little ones; He's got a world of six billion on His hands. Yet He handles each of us individually. And we, like that little girl with her mommy, expect God to do just that. He is consistently there, meeting us right where we are.
It is a comforting thought to know the Lord is there, always in every circumstance. There are hardships in life, trials and tribulations, which test us. If you strive to live a godly life and do what is right, life will usually be even harder at times. If you're walking with God, you're going against the pattern of the world. The world will usually inform you.
"All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12)
It will be tough to handle at times, beyond our own capabilities. Yet God comforts us in those times, and His comfort enables us to be comforters. In this way we strengthen each other: "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 tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (II Corinthians 1:3-4 NKJV)
In other words, the loving embrace of God is often done with human arms. Just as the mother reached out to her frustrated, sometimes rebellious daughter, He uses us to reach out and love others with that same comforting embrace with which He embraced us.
"For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ" (II Corinthians 1:5)
The next time you begin to lose your cool with someone, or avoid certain persons because of their past sin, consider the One who was there for you in your rebellion. Our ability to comfort comes through Christ because He came to us. At times you will run into His arms. And at times, someone desperately seeking those arms will find them in you.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.