The Only Real Comfort

“For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
(1 Corinthians 6:20)

What is your only comfort, in life and in death?

There are a lot of things that bring me comfort – many of them involve bacon and/or gravy.  There’s the comfortable pair of jeans that I wear when I know I’m not going anywhere.  There’s the comfy chair which is guaranteed to produce a nap if I sit in it too long.  There’s a certain sense of comfort afforded by a 7 game post-season streak and a 3 game lead in the ALCS.  There’s even the comfort of depositing my paycheck in bank and knowing that I’m able to provide for my family.

Yet with all of these “creature comforts,” there’s always this sense that something’s missing, that I’m wanting something more.  As good as these things which bring me comfort may be, they do not truly satisfy the longing of my soul.

The human soul longs for meaning, for purpose, for satisfaction, for completion.  We are social creatures because, deeply wired in our existence, we are meant to be fulfilled by something other than ourselves.  We want to know we have made a difference, we want to leave a legacy.  We want to know that we have been right, not just correct, but righteous – on the side all that is good and lasting.  We want to know that we are secure, not just for today, but for eternity.

This is why the first question of the Heidelberg Catechism resonates with so many, it gets to the deepest longing – what is your only comfort, in life and in death?  Kevin DeYoung, in his book, The Good News We Almost Forgot, gives a little insight into the makeup of that question:

“Comfort” translates the German word trost, which was, in turn, rendered consolatio in the first official Latin version.  Trost is related to the English word “trust” and has the root meaning of “certainty” or “protection.”  Heidelberg is asking, “What is your solace in life?  What is your only real security?”

DeYoung, Kevin The Good News We Almost Forgot. (Moody Pub., Chicago, 2010) pg. 21.

The answer is this;

That I belong – body and soul, in life and in death – not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of his own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that he protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that everything must fit his purpose for my salvation.  Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Our only – the Catechism says, only – sole, unique, lone – comfort is that we belong to Christ.  More than bacon, more than the love of family, more than a healthy IRA – our belonging to Christ is the only thing which will bring us consolation, security, protection.

Christ has purchased us through the shedding of His blood.  Acts 20:28 tells us that Christ obtained the church with His own blood; 1 Cor 6:20 teaches that we have been bought with a price.  We were debtors to God’s glory, slaves to sin and death.  But through His cross, Jesus ransomed and redeemed us, our sins have been atoned for – all through His blood.  Our guilt, our shame, our debt has been covered.  We belong to Christ Jesus, and this is for our comfort.

What’s more, I am safe, kept in him.  Romans 8 tell us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, Jude 2 that we are kept in Him.  We are not just saved from wrath and sin, we are kept for righteousness – that we might be kept blameless before Him at His coming.  We are so preserved and protected by God’s grace in Jesus Christ that “not even a hair can fall from my head without His knowledge – and without it being for God’s purpose for my salvation.”  In Christ, there is nothing that I face that is not ultimately for God’s glory and my drawing nearer to Him.

Belonging to Christ Jesus, I am assured of eternal life and I am willing and ready to live for him.  Because He has saved and kept me unto salvation, I will live in His strength, His grace, His wisdom, joyfully serving and testifying to His goodness all my life.  I know that it is His strength that makes my work successful; His love that empowers mine.  I do not need to worry about tomorrow, or tomorrow’s tomorrow, for I know that, as Alpha and Omega, He holds all things in His hand.

What greater comfort is there than belonging to such a savior, of having your life hidden in His?  This comfort is meant to be our foundation, our starting place.  When you know that you belong, in life and in death, to Christ who purchased you, and that your life is secure in Him… well then I suppose you can face just about anything that comes your way!

SDG

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

“Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

(Psalm 62:8)

I am feeling a little under the weather today (for the curious, here’s a link to about the origin of that phrase).  Not only have the allergens of NW Iowa finally caught up to me, making my head feel like a bowling ball spinning down the lane, but my stomach is rebelling today too.  I am in mourning, for it has been made perfectly clear that I can no longer eat Pizza without paying an extreme price.  All of that being said, writing an article to encourage and cheer my fellow disciples of Christ seems near impossible.

I thought what I’d do instead, is share what I turn to in times like these.  I’ve never read Chicken Soup for the Soul, not that I have anything against that kind of devotional material – I’ve just never needed it.  No.  It’s not that I’ve never needed the soothing, healing words of encouragement.  I just get it from another source.  For example, today the Soul Salving Soup is found in the old hymns of the church.

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet.

© Words: Anne Steele; Public Domain

What a great reminder.  When the sorrows rise, when the troubles roll, when doubts prevail and the worldly comforts fail, we can cast our hope, place our trust, cleave our soul upon the only refuge of our weary souls.  His Word brings sweet relief from every pain, the ear of sovereign grace attends the mourner’s prayer, His mercy seat is open still.

I hope you are well today.  But well or weary, may you cast your soul upon the one true source of hope, the everlasting fountain of joy, the eternal arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

SDG

P.S. – Here’s a link to the YouTube video of the Hymn