Gentle Giants of God
Latin students will tell you that the word “fortis” means strong. So, fortitude is a good quality to have in tough times. A breakfast cereal may be improved, or fortified, with vitamins. A fort is more than a child’s backyard creation. A real fortress is a safe refuge and conveys a feeling of granite protection. So, what do we do with the word comfort?
In our minds, comfort doesn’t suggest the strength of stone. Comfort is soft, cuddly and warm. But if we think of comfort only in terms of a hug, we cheat the word. Comfort is more than sympathy or empathetic tears. Comfort is about strength. It is coming along side someone and sharing your strength with them. It is the communication of hope and help in a time of need. It soothes, but also invites to a robust response in the midst of grief, crisis or pain. Comfort may be a hug - but one that transfers courage to slouching shoulders. Comfort may be a card which assures those in shadows that the light still shines. Comfort may be gestures of unbidden kindness that whisper love. Comfort is a voice of clarity heard within the fog of confusion. Comfort feels another’s struggle, steps into the situation and offers strength. It is more than a comfy blanket or familiar favourite food. Comfort offers firm grounding for our steps, perseverance to our path and confidence that we will arrive where we ought to be. It is strength we share together.
With all this in mind, hear the words of Isaiah. “Comfort, comfort My people says your God!” (Isa.40:1) It is the heart of God to comfort His people. He extends His strength to our weakness. I am truly comforted to know that God does more than identify and acknowledge my pain. A sympathetic Lord who cries along with me, but offers no strength, is no comfort at all! But at a graveside, in a hospital room, for a fractured family or in the despair of depression, there is strength to be found. Jesus - our Emmanuel, Advocate and Intercessor, extends might smothered with sensitivity. By His Spirit, He grants power to continue. With His truth, He removes the rubble of our mental ruins. Scarred hearts heal. Forlorn finds fortis.
This is what God does. This is what we are to do. The comfort we receive becomes comfort we share. (2 Cor.1:4) Even death is no match for the strength we share together. (1 Thess.4:18) Children of the heavenly Father should be generous with the comfort that has graced them. In our communities enduring pandemic days - comfort is called for. We have our fill of debates, arguments and polarized positions. We do not need the power of brute force. We do not need hollow whimpers of sympathy. We need the comfort of God.