“Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” Elisha’s servant asked.
The king of Aram (present-day Syria) was at war with ancient Israel and had sent an entire army to the city of Dothan to capture the prophet Elisha. They came by night, so when Elisha’s servant woke and went out early in the morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
When Jesus first told His disciples that he would soon be leaving them, they were greatly perplexed and asked Him all kinds of questions. The thought of Him leaving them was almost too much to bear.
He comforted them with the words, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”1
Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a cold winter gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, an automobile accident had stolen her ease. During this week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose visit she coveted, called saying she couldn’t come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would teach her to be thankful for the good things in her life and allow her to empathize with others who suffer.
Most people try not to think about it more than they have to, but there’s no denying it: There’s a lot of suffering in the world. Innocents are killed, maimed, and made homeless in cruel and unjust wars. More suffer the same in natural or manmade disasters. Cancer, AIDS, and other diseases claim millions of lives each year, often after months or years of pain. There’s no end to it. Why does life have to be this way? It’s the age-old question: Why does God allow suffering?
I see your struggles and hear your calls for help. When you feel all alone, I am with you. I feel your heartaches, and wait for you to draw near to Me in prayer. Come into My sanctuary, into that secret place that you and I can share. There you can find a reprieve from the worries, the cares, and the confusion. There I can restore your feeling of purpose and infuse you with strength to go on.
In John 14:26, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to comfort His followers after His departure from this world. “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things.”1
This promise has been etched into my memory since childhood. But it wasn’t until I reached my midtwenties that I encountered “the Comforter” for myself.
Grandpa first introduced me to the ice house on his dairy farm when I was just a tot. After the cows were milked and the raw milk put into sterilized bottles in the creamery, the bottles were submerged in ice water in the ice house. There was no refrigeration there in 1952, just good insulation and a thick door to keep the heat out. The bottles of milk were kept fresh in ice water in a large metal tub. Then, very early each morning, the wooden crates of glass bottles were put into the milk truck with big chunks of ice on top and delivered to the surrounding households. Fresh milk daily.
Pets act as companions, helpers, and sources of comfort in difficult times. When pets die, the resulting sense of loss can be very painful. People who experience this often search for answers and the hope that they haven’t lost forever what had become very dear to their hearts. Our compassion and understanding can help them look to God for their comfort. Our words can help them feel an assurance that they’ll be reunited with their beloved pets in heaven.
Remember the time when I calmed the sea? My disciples were panicking and thought that they would certainly perish. But when they looked to Me for help, rather than looking at their circumstances, I came to their rescue in spite of the waves and the storm.1
It never ceases to amaze me how Jesus shows up in the dark and difficult places of our lives. One such example is told in Luke 8.
Jesus, already being thronged by crowds of people eager to hear His words, is begged by Jairus, a cleric and a man of some importance, to come to his home and heal his dying daughter.