My Comforter

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” asks David in Psalm 22:1. We can fall into what seem to be terrible times of trial and feel like everything, even our own God, is against us. This feeling is what David expresses in his question. Trials can come in many ways and forms: perhaps we feel so fallen into a sin that even God can no longer save us, a loved one has been taken from us despite their youth and healthiness, or we ourselves suffer with some terrible illness. However, all of these things are only a minor comparison to what Christ, our caring Shepherd, has suffered. Christ suffered the full pouring out of God’s wrath for innumerable sins of an innumerable amount of His elect people. In His suffering, Christ became our Mediator who knows all our burdens and grants us full assurance of peace in salvation.

For us, Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:7). As a man, we know that “Jesus wept” and felt the pain, weakness, and tiredness of our bodies (John 11:35, John 4:6, Matt. 8:24). He also knew what it felt like to be hated and unjustly tortured. Countless times the Pharisees questioned Jesus with wicked motives, men tried to push Him off of a cliff, He lost His friend Lazarus, and all His suffering climaxed when He bore the wrath of God on the cross. Now, the One who suffered all these unimaginable miseries has become our Mediator. Jesus, who suffered more than is imaginable–for this punishment came from the all powerful God– understands any pain that you or I may ever encounter. This merciful Saviour, our gracious Comforter, speaks to us and comforts us in the scriptures, through His voice in the preaching, and in speaking with us and answering our prayers.

In His word, Jesus assures us of our salvation, which brings us peace in any trial, saying “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Every week Jesus spiritually renews us with the preaching so that it is fitting to compare the preaching to milk or meat as is done in I Corinthians 3:2. On the Sabbath, we are assured that we have no need of fear, but may live instead devoting all our heart and soul in joy and thankfulness praising the God of our salvation. Lastly, Jesus works peace within us by answering our prayers. He is our “Emmanuel… God with us” and He knows everything we need (Matt. 1:23).  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Pet. 3:12)

Through any affliction we may face, our Lord Jesus is our comfort. He has been touched with our infirmities and knows the feelings of temptation (Heb 4:15). There is no man who can comfort us like our gentle Shepherd. He fully understands and comprehends the burdens we may face and has a compassionate love towards us, His sheep. How blessed we are to have a full assurance and confidence in Him knowing He is our faithful Mediator who “change[s] not” (Mal. 3:6).

Luke Christian Potjer

 

Everlasting Love

I have this picture in my house; it was given to me by my mom because it is a painting of horses with Jeremiah 31:3 written on it: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” It is a beautiful picture with a beautiful verse, and it has provoked a lot of thought over the last few years that I’ve been looking at it. I’ll tell you why.

Working with horses over the years, I’ve learned to accurately read their body language. One of the horses in the picture is displaying interest, attention, and care toward the other horse. His ears are up; head held high, eyes are bright! Everlasting love, right? Just like the verse written below it says!

The other horse in the picture, however, isn’t quite on the same page. He is quartered away from his companion. His ears are pinned back, head lowered and eyes diverted. He is displaying annoyance, anger, and maybe even disgust. This is why I’ve spent so much time staring at this picture over the years. Why put a verse about the everlasting love of God below a painting that seems contradictory to that verse?

At first, I thought maybe the artist was just naïve, and probably didn’t know a thing about horses, putting a verse like that on such a picture. I don’t know the author, but the more time I spend looking at the picture, the more I think the artist knew what she was doing. After all, with some contemplation, the verse makes perfect sense in that context!

Everlasting love is an easy concept when we think of loving our friends, or when we think of God loving us while we sing in church, pray, or study His word. Even though we know our sin, that everlasting love is warm and fuzzy, and easy to see, but what about when we pin our ears? The moments (and they are constant) that we turn away from God, show Him annoyance, anger and even disgust at His will for us are the moments where the everlasting love of God is most amazing. Realistically, each moment of our lives is a “pin our ears” moment, whether we realize it or not.

So, what if this artist knew what she was doing? Maybe this picture is more than a pretty painting and a beautiful verse. Maybe the artist is saying something about this everlasting love. Even when we don’t show love to our God, even though we quarter away and pin our ears, His everlasting love holds us. He doesn’t stop and leave us alone in our misery. He continues to love us because that love is everlasting!

Let’s spend each day not only trying to reciprocate that love, but thankful for each moment that we reject and try to run from God that He draws us in with lovingkindness time and time again. No matter how many times we pin our ears and turn our heads, His love is unconditional and everlasting, and gently leads us back to Him. Recognize the moments in life that you pin your ears at God, or at friends and loved ones, and apologize to them and to God for those moments of annoyance, anger and disgust. Pray that He will show you also to love with everlasting love!

Suzie Altena

If you’d like to view the painting in reference by Jennifer Pugh, please click here.

Precious in God’s Eyes

Everyone wants to feel wanted and loved. No one likes the feeling that they are worthless and unwanted. Yet at one point or another in your life, you will probably struggle with those feelings to some degree or another. And when you do, where will you look for comfort? The worldly individual will search himself for personal qualities that he thinks make him him valuable to society and full of worth in himself. But if, when plagued with feelings of doubt and despair, you try to find something good in yourself, you will come up short and void of consolation. Instead, turn to the ever-comforting Word of God, for there your heavenly Father provides all the comfort you need. There are many examples of God’s love for His elect people that can be found in the Bible, but I would like to look at a few in particular that really illustrate how precious God’s children are to Him.

If you are struggling with your sense of worth, simply consider the fact that God calls you His child. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (I John 3:1). God cares for those who fear and trust Him as a loving father would for his precious children. God loves His elect so much that He provided the way for them to become His adopted sons and daughters through their older brother and Lord, Jesus Christ. This is the only basis you and I truly have to be assured of our value. Without this knowledge, there would be no reason to believe there is any worth in ourselves at all and to do so would be vain and proud. You are a redeemed child of God, and He loves you as such. You have worth!

Another passages that serves as a comforting reminder to all of God’s children is Zechariah 2:8: “For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” God calls His chosen people the apple of his eye! The phrase “apple of the eye” refers to the center of the eye – the iris – which is one of the most protected parts of the human body. Think of how protective you are of your eyes, how you reflectively blink and shield your face to prevent anything from damaging your eyes. Think of how much you depend on your eyes, how even an irritated or dry eye can leave you unable to carry on with your daily activities. Think of how precious your eyes and the gift of sight are to you. That is the picture God is painting for His people. You are the apple of His eye, and He will protect you as His most treasured possession. That’s how precious you are to Him.

Another very comforting passage for God’s children is Matthew 10: 29-31: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” If you are tempted to believe that you are noticed by no one of importance, this proves otherwise. Whether or not they are consciously aware of it, God is always watching and caring for His people. He holds you, his precious child, in the palm of His hand so that not so much as a hair can fall out of your head without His knowledge and will. How comforting!

Everyone wants to feel valuable, and many seek to find their worth in themselves. They try to find some good virtues in themselves that give them worth. But the only way you can truly find worth is as you view yourself as a beloved child of God through Jesus Christ. Then you possess the comfort that you are loved and treasured by the Almighty Jehovah God of heaven and earth. You are the apple of His eye. You are the object of His constant care and protection. You are His precious child. What more could you need?

Anna Langerak