The Great Comforter
I had no idea the kind of investment we were signing on for when my sister presented my oldest son, Davis, with a blanket when he was one year old. If you have seen us around, well, anywhere, you have likely seen the blanket. It has oversized moose print on one side and red and black plaid on the other. Davis, now nearing five years old, has quite literally not gone a single day without this blanket – except for the great “lost blankie” debacle of 2020 (a conversation for another time).
Once - while on a road trip - we drove for an hour away from our destination, back towards home, at eleven o’clock at night, in the winter, with a toddler and an infant, to retrieve the gas-station-forgotten blanket. Why did we go to such lengths? How could a piece of cloth be worth it? Is it believable to say that this inanimate blanket has become part of the fabric of our family? It has been through much of what we have. Now scratchy and worn with visible evidence of each restitching, years of dragging have turned the once white moose pattern a permanent shade of beige. Yet the miles and memories do not detract from its comfort for Davis; rather, they add to it.
To Davis, the blanket is not “a” comfort; it is comfort. It is safety. It is warmth. It is memories of joyful things, hard things, scary things, even hurtful things - come and gone. To him, the blanket is a testimony of overcoming. It has been with him through unbearable bike crashes, the loss of grandparents, birthday celebrations, and so much more. The comfort is very noticeable at times when mom and dad are away. So long as he has his blanket, first days of school are scary but doable. Sleepovers with grandparents are now not so different than nights at home. And in all my time watching him with his blanket, the hours spent washing it again (and again and again), I realize that God has been teaching me about Himself.
Acts chapter 9 tells the story of Saul’s conversion to Christianity through a radical encounter with the Lord Jesus. The chapter then goes on to tell the back and forth story of God’s Word being preached boldly and great persecution arising against it. It is amid that suffering that we find verse 31.
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (ESV)
The Holy Spirit is for us, among other things, a Comforter. The Believers were suffering, yet comforted. Persecuted, yet at peace. Pressed in, yet built up. The Spirit testifies that God is both with us in our circumstances and also outside of them (John 14:16-28). He is here, has been here, and has gone before. That is an amazing comfort.
When I consider all of this, I must ask: is God my comfort, or is He a comfort? Is He Himself my very comfort? Sometimes I take comfort in the things of God - His felt nearness, knowledge that He hears me, His promises, etc. However, God is more than His benefits. He is a person. And through the Spirit, He is near – more near, in fact, than my very breath. He is more real than my circumstances, yet He sits in them with me.
Scripture teaches that the Spirit plays many roles in my life. Among those, He reminds me of joyful things, hard things, scary things, even hurtful things come – and gone. And He helps me fix my eyes ahead on the glory that is to come in Christ Jesus - the Great Perfecter of my faith. The greatest comfort I have ever known cannot compare to the coming embrace of the Savior.
May I hope and long for that moment, but may I also allow myself to stop, breathe deeply, and find great (perhaps even irrational) Comfort now. Spirit, awaken me to Your presence today. - Jason Simon, Minister to Students