Ministering Comfort

January 15, 2016

“…  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.” (2Corinthians 1:4)

They say an evangelist is “one beggar telling another beggar where the bread is.”  Paul is telling us in this Scripture passage that a minister of comfort is “one hurting heart telling another hurting heart where the Comfort is.” According to Paul, every time you enter into a deeper level of suffering God gives you a diploma you can frame and hang on your wall of credentials.

Captured during the Vietnam War, Jeremiah Denton spent 7 years of solitary confinement in Hanoi.  Alone in that cell he made an amazing discovery: God was there and God Himself comforted him.  Have you entered into a level of suffering that was deep enough for you to make that same discovery?  If you have, then you are a qualified minister of comfort and you can tell other hurting hearts where the Comfort is.

As a pastor for just under six decades I have made a discovery.  The best one to comfort a parent who has lost a child is a parent who has lost a child; and the best one to comfort the person who has lost a spouse is someone who has lost a spouse – when those who have suffered these losses have been comforted by God Himself.  The same is true for women who have had mastectomies, those who are going through divorce, battling cancer and every other shade and grade of suffering.

When God Himself has comforted you in your deepest levels of suffering are you willing to reach outside yourself and become a qualified minister of comfort?

Dick Woodward, 17 June 2010


Facing Calamities

January 16, 2015

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

These familiar words of consolation and exhortation are found in the context of a great calamity described by the psalmist. Many believe this calamity is prophetic and relates to the great and terrible Day of the Lord. By application these words, and other words of consolation in this psalm, can be related to any calamity we experience as the people of God.

As the hymn writer declares this calamity to be a total devastation, in the midst of this devastation he exclaims, “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in times of trouble.” Since Hebrew is not as precise as Greek, the New American Standard Bible offers helpful alternate readings in the margins throughout this psalm. The alternate reading offered here consoles us with the thought that God can be a very present help to us in our “tight places.”

The helpful alternate reading presented alongside verse 10 is “Relax, let go and prove that God is – and what His will is. He is God and He wills to be exalted among the nations and in the earth.”

When you find yourself experiencing calamity be still long enough to experience these great realities: that God is God, that He is there for you, and that He can help you in the tight places of your calamity. So relax, let go, and prove Him. Then ask yourself how your response to your calamity just might align with what He wills; that He might be exalted among the nations and in the earth through the way you live your life here on earth for His Glory.

Dick Woodward, 10 March 2009