Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"The God of All Comfort"

ok this was the info from the talk on Sunday, which I wanted to post earlier... part of the material which the speaker elaborated on was taken from the points mentioned below on how we can be a source of comfort for others going through trialsome situations:
(pg 29, 3/15/90 WA)

□ LISTEN CAREFULLY—With discerning questions ‘draw up’ the feelings of the person’s heart. Be quick to listen and slow to reach any conclusions before having the full picture.—Proverbs 20:5; 18:13.
□ SHOW EMPATHY—“Fellow feeling” should join with ‘tender compassion’ as you try to identify emotionally with the depressed one. ‘Weep with one who weeps.’—1 Peter 3:8; Romans 12:15.
□ BE LONG-SUFFERING—It may take repeated discussions, so be patient. Overlook “wild talk” that the depressed one may speak because of frustration.—Job 6:3.
□ STRENGTHEN WITH WORDS—Help the depressed one to see his or her good qualities. Give specific commendation. Show that problems, past bad experiences, or shortcomings do not determine one’s personal worth. Explain why God loves and cares about him or her.—Job 16:5.

The speaker mentioned how there are many times when we are confronted with only two choices in life: 'bad' and 'worse' ... which is why it's so important to learn to rely on Jehovah as "the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation..."(2 Corinthians 1:3, 4)
He gave an example of this, by putting a very different spin on the account at Acts 16:16-24, (which I had never even thought of before) that shows how Paul's situation actually went from 'bad' to 'worse' because he reacted based on his emotions, rather than relying on Jehovah as "the God of all comfort" to help him deal with it.

So here's where the situation started...
"And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain servant girl with a spirit, a demon of divination, met us. She used to furnish her masters with much gain by practicing the art of prediction. This [girl] kept following Paul and us and crying out with the words: “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who are publishing to YOU the way of salvation.” This she kept doing for many days. Finally Paul got tired of it and turned and said to the spirit: “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour." (verses 16-18)

so at first it seems like Paul handled the situation pretty well doesn't it? Except look how that situation (which was more of an annoyance or irritation for him), immediately became much worse...

"Well, when her masters saw that their hope of gain had left, they laid hold of Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the rulers, and, leading them up to the civil magistrates, they said: “These men are disturbing our city very much, they being Jews, and they are publishing customs that it is not lawful for us to take up or practice, seeing we are Romans.” And the crowd rose up together against them; and the civil magistrates, after tearing the outer garments off them, gave the command to beat them with rods. After they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them securely. Because he got such an order, he threw them into the inner prison and made their feet fast in the stocks." (verses 19-24)

So that initial 'bad' situation, of having this demon-possessed girl follow them around all day long and bother them while they were trying to engage in the ministry, was a source of aggravation and irritation to Paul and Silas. But now, that situation went from 'bad' to 'worse' because Paul and Silas were forcibly taken away from their preaching work, after being rounded up by the angry men of the marketplace, and turned over to the civil magistrates who proceeded to have them beaten and thrown into prison. And at this point, they had no idea how long they would be stuck in jail or what was going to happen to them.

Then the speaker pointed out 'the change' or 'difference' in Paul's demeanor (which is notably more prayerful and humble) shown in the next few verses of the account. Demonstrating that this time he was relying on "the God of all comfort" ... instead of merely relying on himself, by taking matters into his own hands like he did originally.

"But about the middle of the night Paul and Silas were praying and praising God with song; yes, the prisoners were hearing them. Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the jail were shaken. Moreover, all the doors were instantly opened, and the bonds of all were loosened. The jailer, being awakened out of sleep and seeing the prison doors were open, drew his sword and was about to do away with himself, imagining that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul called out with a loud voice, saying: “Do not hurt yourself, for we are all here!” So he asked for lights and leaped in and, seized with trembling, he fell down before Paul and Silas. And he brought them outside and said: “Sirs, what must I do to get saved?” They said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of Jehovah to him together with all those in his house. And he took them along in that hour of the night and bathed their stripes; and, one and all, he and his were baptized without delay. And he brought them into his house and set a table before them, and he rejoiced greatly with all his household now that he had believed God." (verses 25-34)

Jehovah was able to turn this particular situation around in Paul and Silas' favor when they prayerfully implored him, and it turned out to benefit, not only themselves, but the jailer and his entire household. So the lesson was that we should never be quick to make hasty decisions based on emotion, when we are in a 'trying' situation that may seem 'bad' to us at the time. Because by relying on ourselves instead of looking to Jehovah for comfort and guidance, and prayerfully relying on him for wisdom on the best way to handle the situation, we might actually make things much worse for ourselves.