Psalm 119:75-77 I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me. Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight.” KJV
The word comfort is defined in the dictionary as something that soothes, consoles, or reassures. It’s also something that brings relief or satisfaction and it can be a state of relaxation as well. I would assume that’s why the foods we love most are called comfort foods. Those ratty old tshirts and sweatpants are comfortable clothes. The place that is we head for every evening is a comfortable old chair. They are the things that we find soothing when the rest of the world is exploding around us. When my days are filled with work, travel, kids, and chaos, it is the comfort of home that I miss the most. That place in my kitchen where I am surrounded by my stuff, coffee in hand, music on my old radio, fuzzy slippers on, and dog at my feet.
It seems lately that there are few times when my life is not in chaos. Yet it takes just a few comfortable things .to bring me that peace I crave. Last night during Ash Wednesday service, we sang “Jesus Loves Me This I Know”. Tears sprang to my eyes as I recalled singing that song in Sunday school years and years (ok and way too many years) ago. It brought back memories of bible school and church camp and the feeling that someone loved me. It’s funny how something that simple can bring us so much joy. As I looked around, I could see that same joy on other adults faces as well. We live in very unsettling times. There is so much in all of our lives that is causing us grief or pain or stress. It only takes a simple reminder that my Jesus loves me to bring it all into balance.
I am a total book nerd. The first book my parents bought me (other than simple nursery rhyme books) was the dictionary. I still have my first dictionary. How sad is that! But I still love to read it. Just thumbing through the old pages, looking at pictures and words that fascinated me so long ago, brings me comfort when I am stressed out. For most of my life, I would not turn to the scriptures for comfort. Because I carried a huge burden of guilt that was laid upon my shoulders by those around me, the scriptures only brought me pain because it seemed they always reminded me of my guilt. In my spiritual blindness, I could not see the words that would bring me hope. Now that I read the Bible with new eyes, I see page after page of words that fill me with comfort, solace, and relief.
I still struggle a little bit with the new versions of the Bible. They seem awkward and uncomfortable to me. Because I memorized scriptures when I was a teenager, always in the King James Version, I get a mental block when I read the new versions. So when I am stressed out and my world is spinning out of control again, I pull out my KJV. It is comforting to me. It’s words make me feel like my Abba is right beside me, guiding my fingers across the pages, showing me what He needs me to see. It took youngest daughter to show me that what works for me doesn’t work for everyone. She is not a big reader. She is artistic and creative and loves to write and sing but reading just isn’t “her thing”. So what to me are rich, beautiful words full of magical prose are just “blah, blah, blah” to her. When I gave her a NIV translation, the words came alive for her. She now reads her Bible and marks her favorite passages. She hears the words of her Abba that were written just for her. I now realize that one of the reasons why she wouldn’t read the Bible was because what comforted me was not what she needed.
There are so many things in life that we use for comfort. My little radio was a gift to me from my mother and grandmother when I graduated high school. We didn’t have much money and we all lived together in a small house in California. It was all they could afford. Yet through the years it has brought me so much joy and lately it brings me my praise and worship music when I need it the most. I know that when I touch the switch, the sweetest of sound comes out of it, soothing my soul and bringing me back to God. My box of letters and cards that I have received over the years from my children and my mother. Long before there was email and texting (gasp!!) we had to write letters to each other. Phone calls were just for special occasions. When I am feeling sad about the past, I pull out those letters from happier times and read the words of love and encouragement. And more than anything, when I am on my face again from another crash and burn or just when I am feeling the need to feel my Heavenly Father’s spirit in my heart, I pull out my old scriptures. The ones with my name printed painstakingly inside the front cover. And I read the words that bring me the most comfort and peace and solace of all. That Jesus loves me and this I know.