Comfort dog? Or Comfort God

As humans, we desperately search for comfort.  Hotels, cars, furniture, clothes, even foods, all advertise and try to lure us in because of the comfort that they provide.  We long for comfort.  We long for true fellowship and the comfort that it brings.

We struggle to find it in ourselves and in each other.  So we look for it in things.  And we look for it in God’s other creatures.  Comfort animals have become the latest “in” thing.  No one asks to bring a comfort human with them wherever they go, but there are plenty of requests for comfort peacocks, comfort rabbits, comfort bearded dragons, and, of course, comfort dogs.  In the last several years, the numbers of individuals carrying comfort dogs in their arms, or on leashes or in crates, wherever they go has greatly increased — why?  They help fill our need for comfort.  They don’t talk back.  They don’t judge.  They are fully present and attentive with us. They appear to love us even when we feel like no one else does.  Even when we feel like we don’t deserve it.

We so long for that comfort, and we so often miss the mark as to where to find it. As usual, we have it backwards.  We look to a comfort d-o-g, when we should be looking to G-o-d.

Throughout the Bible, we are reminded where we can take comfort.  King David frequently rejoices in God’s comfort in his psalms:

My soul rests in God alone,

from whom comes my salvation.

God alone is my rock and salvation,

my fortress; I shall never fall.

Psalms 62:2-3

St. Paul also rejoices in the comfort of our Lord who has enriched us with spiritual gifts and provided us with grace through Jesus:

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus [Christ].  God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

We don’t need a new car, or the softest fabric.  We don’t need a certified comfort animal.  God will keep us firm to the end.  He alone is our rock and our salvation.  Where our human comfort fails, God is faithful and by him we are called to fellowship with Jesus.  It is only through Him that we truly find peace, rest and comfort.  How did David and Paul know this?  Because God tells us.  He told Moses and Joshua (and tells us):

Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD, your God, is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

He told us again through his son, Jesus:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

John 14:27

Although this world may make us feel alone and afraid, God is always with us.  He has spoken back to us, in a good way, through His word.  If we truly turn to him, we will find ourselves buried in His chest before we can even fully turn around, because He is in fact that close.  He is the peace and the comfort that we crave.  He is always fully present and attentive with us.  He loves us even when we feel like no one else does.  Even when we feel like we don’t deserve it.

Lord,

You are my rock and my salvation.  You are my comfort and my peace.  When I am lost and afraid, help me to remember to turn to you.  I want you to be my comfort.  I want to rest in your arms.  Thank you for telling us time and time again that you are here.  Help us to listen, every day and particularly when we need it most.  It is so easy to get lost in this world.  Thank you for all of your beautiful creation, including the animals that bring us comfort, and all of mankind.  Help us to do a better job of bringing each other comfort (through love and fellowship rather than material things).  Help us always know that true comfort comes when we turn to you, when we are in fellowship with you.  I want to live in that fellowship.  I want others to share in that fellowship. Help me to bring your love and comfort to others.

The cure for anxiety

I have noticed the Bible opens here quite frequently.  Whether it is because the crease here is beginning to wear or God is directing me to these words, the words are always welcome:

The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:5-7

Our days seem wrought with anxiety, stress and worry.  Am I on the right path, did I make the right decision, could I have done that better, should I exercise more, should I worry about GMO,  is my future secure, is my family healthy…  Am I living a life that is pleasing to God?

The Bible tells us there is an easy solution:  “in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”

God, I ask you to relieve my stress, anxiety and worry.  I long for your peace.  Help me to remember that our earthly worries are only temporary.  Help me to keep my focus with you.

 

Joy and Peace (Again)

This is one of my favorite passages.  In fact, the Bible has opened here before, including most recently on March 25.  I thought about reopening to another page, since I have blogged on this passage before, but the words have once again drawn me in:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding” — that’s what I want.  Just saying the word peace brings with it an exhale and I feel some stress drop out of my shoulders.  Peace.  Now think of that peace coming directly from God.  And try to wrap your head around the concept that God’s peace surpasses all understanding — we cannot even fathom the extent of the peace that God will share with us.  Peace — a full exhale and my arms drop as the tension leaves the back of my neck.  That is what I want.

And the great thing about this passage is that Paul wraps it up in a nice recipe or formula as to how to achieve it:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always!  I have always taken this passage to mean that we should sing God’s praises, which seems easy enough.  God is indeed great and it is easy to sing His praises.  But as I read it more closely (and look up the definition of “rejoice”), I see that what it really says is “feel joy or great delight” in the Lord.  I like the idea of this  — step one is to feel joy or great delight in the Lord — but how do you make yourself feel that?  Hmmm.  Not so easy… or is it?  Stop.  And think. God is great.  God’s love for us is great and unconditional.  God can do anything and forgive anything and no matter what we have done, he calls us back to Him.  Feel joy and great delight in the Lord and Rejoice!  With hands in the air, head tilted back to the sky, Rejoice!
  2. Step two: Your kindness should be known to all.  Be kind to others.  Not always the easiest thing to do.  Reflect God’s love to others, share God’s love with others.  Be kind.  Do unto others…
  3. Make your requests known to God through prayer, petition and thanksgiving — and by doing so, let go of your anxiety, let go of your control or belief that you can control it — give it to God. On paper these steps seem so easy — but in reality they can seem quite hard.  It is easy enough to pray for something, or to ask God for something — but, that is not enough. God asks us to let go of it — and by doing so — have faith in Him that He will take care of it.

So to sum it up: Feel joy and great delight in God, share that joy with others and have faith in God to take care of everything else.   (Starting to feel a little stress about whether this is achievable — so I am going to go back to feeling joy and rejoicing in God  — and I will let God take care of the rest.)

(With hands up in the air and my head tilted back) I rejoice in you, O God.  I feel the joy that only you can provide.  Help me to share this joy with others.  Help me to release my stress and worries and anxieties to you.  Help me to let go.  Help me to trust and have faith.  Thank you God!

Joy & Peace

It is late Friday night.  It has been a very long week.  I have been gone since 5 am this morning and just now getting home at 11:30 at night.  The  weekend plans are packed with 3 soccer games, 1 baseball game, 2 meetings and probably 4-5 hours of work, maybe more.  And at some point I need to pack and prepare for a three-day trip.  I am tired.  And there is no foreseeable rest in sight.

I quickly opened the Bible tonight, ready to just crawl into bed and collapse.  Here is what God told me:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.  Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:4-9

The section is labeled “Joy and Peace”. And that is exactly what I need right now.  God always knows just what to say!  I rejoice in the Lord!  He is mighty indeed and He is near. I will let go of my anxieties (hand them over to God) and in prayer and petition, make my requests known to God.    Lord, I need rest.  I need help.  I look to you.  I put my trust in you. Lead me, guide me, hold me.

Now I just need to think about what is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and gracious and excellent and worthy of praise.  I think about God because what else is all of these things? GOD.  God and all that He creates.  The beautiful sunrise breaking through the darkness of night.  The new buds on the trees and the daffodils starting to bloom.  The newborn calf and the 5-year old’s laugh.  Friends forged in faith.  LOVE.

Peace

Joy

Thank you God!