God’s Comfort in Our Suffering

July 14, 2017

“Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort.  For He gives us comfort in our trials…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, J. B. Phillips)

Suffering can drive us to God in such a way that we make this discovery: God is there and God can comfort us.

There is a supernatural quality of comfort that can be found in knowing God. God does not want us to go through life and never discover that God is there for us and will comfort us. When you undergo a life-threatening surgery and you, completely alone, are being placed under the bright lights, remember that God is the ultimate source of the greatest comfort you can possibly experience in this life.

Many of us have known people we loved who are depressed and oppressed. They are nearly always alone and their pain is so intensely private they do not want any of the caring people in their lives to be with them.

Others believe their suffering is so personal they must place themselves in a self-imposed solitary confinement. If that happens to you, I challenge you to make this great discovery: God is there, and God can comfort you!

Father of all mercy and comfort, make me know personally that You are the source of all comfort.  Comfort me in my pain. When I feel alone and depressed, may I discover that You are there, You are real, and You can comfort me.  I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dick Woodward, from 30 Biblical Reasons Why God’s People Suffer


Finding Joy (no matter what!)

October 18, 2016

“…for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty.  In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13)

In this epistle of joy, the epistle to the Philippians, Paul exhorts us, “Delight in Jesus. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Him.” He uses the word ‘joy’ again and again and again. And what he’s really saying to us when he uses the word joy in the conditions in which he’s living is simply this, “Learn to derive your joy from your relationship to Jesus Christ. Learn to delight in Him.”

What is the source of your happiness? In what do you delight? Now again, if you delight in your health, well, you’re on thin ice. What would you do if you lost your health? If you delight in money, what would you do if you had a big crash and you lost everything? If you delight in your loved ones, and many, many people do, what are you going to do when you lose them?

It’s because God loves us that God tells us things like this, “Delight in Me. Learn to derive your joy from knowing Me.” That’s the source of joy. And so that should be our delight. That’s the reason Paul could have peace, even in the dungeon, even when he was in prison, no matter what the circumstances were, the reason he could say, “I’m ready for anything. I have learned how to live when everything’s good, I have learned how to live when everything’s bad.”  Here is one of the big keys: Paul’s delight was the Lord, and the Lord was the Source of his happiness.

Not what he had or didn’t have.

Dick Woodward, (Ben Lippen Retreat, 1979)


Seeds of Suffering

July 19, 2016

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing precious seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  (Psalm 126:5-6)

The ancient inspired hymn writer is describing a father who is sowing seeds his family desperately needs because they are hungry.  As a provider he knows that if he does not plant these seeds, there will be no food for them and they will starve to death.  He therefore sows these precious seeds with tears streaming down his face.

The Holy Spirit leads the author to a beautiful application after he paints this solemn picture for us: sometimes when we are suffering to the point of tears, those tears are precious seeds our heavenly Father is sowing in the soil of our suffering.  When that is the case, we will doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing the fruitful results of our suffering with us.

This is a truth that is often shared in the Bible.  Sometimes suffering is not the setback it appears to be.  It is rather the cutback of our Heavenly Father who is like a divine vineyard keeper.  He cuts us back to increase the quality and the quantity of the fruit our life is yielding for Him.

I sometimes think God is more real and works more effectively in the lives of people in waiting rooms outside the operating theaters of our hospitals than He does in the sanctuaries of our churches.  God does not waste our sorrows and we should not waste them either.

Listen to the wisdom of the hymn writer when he tells us our tears are precious seeds that will ultimately rejoice our hearts.

Dick Woodward, 15 February 2013


Joy, Peace and Optional Misery

April 8, 2016

“Delight yourselves in the Lord; yes, find your joy in him at all times.” (Philippians 4:4)

“While pain and suffering are inevitable, misery is optional.” Those were the words of Tim Hansel, a man who lived every day with excruciating pain (in his book You Gotta Keep Dancin’.)  How could misery be optional for someone in agonizing pain? And how do we explain Apostle Paul mentioning joy seventeen times in the short letter he wrote from prison to his favorite church?

Paul explains that for those who are experiencing a relationship with the risen, living Christ there is a peace and joy that is not controlled by circumstances. What Paul experienced could be called, “peace that doesn’t make good sense” and “joy that doesn’t make good sense.” According to Paul, the foundation of that peace and joy is the Lord Jesus Himself. He therefore prescribed that we are to delight ourselves in the Lord and then find our peace and joy in Him at all times.

What is the foundation for your peace and joy? If your foundation is the relationship with a loved one, do you realize there is no relationship with people here in this life that cannot be removed? If that foundation is your health, your youth or your athleticism, many thousands of people, who had those foundations before age, an illness, or an injury destroyed them, will join me in warning you that they are very fragile foundations for the peace and happiness Paul is prescribing.

In the Gospel of John 17:3 we’re told: And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”  Jesus identified and declared the right foundation for us as knowing God and Jesus Christ Whom God sent into this world.

What is the foundation for your peace? your joy?

Dick Woodward, 23 June 2009

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Tim Hansel, who was a great inspiration to Dick Woodward, check out this blog written at Dick’s request by Clark Morledge over at Veracity.com.  Click here to read it: Joy: Tim Hansel