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The Comfort of the Scriptures

January 7, 2005

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

My children have asked me, "Do you believe God now?" When Charlie the white cat was struck down in the road purposely by a teenage driver, "Do you believe God now?" When Grandpa had a full-scale stroke that left him paralyzed for ten years, "Do you believe God now?" When six animals died in one year, "Do you believe God now?" When two grandmothers died in one year, "Do you believe God now?" When their daddy lost his job, "Do you believe God now?" When the hurricanes came and earthquakes and floods left a path of annihilation unparalleled in human history, "Do you believe God now?"

Life can change in an instant. If the recent tsunami reinforces truth, it is that no matter how we prepare or what our minds can imagine, the unexpected invades as an intruder of deliverance or destruction—and we respond either by blaspheming God our Creator (Rev. 16) or by giving glory to the God of heaven our Redeemer (Revelation 11.13).

Such changes disturb our plans and frustrate our hopes. Earthquakes bring upheaval of order as well as ocean floors and earth. We are diseased, and unsettled, shaken and tried. Disasters awaken fear, cause people to reassess their values and their lives, shape character in the process of testing it, and tenderize hearts as nothing else can.

What is our comfort in a world of change? The Word of God maintains that God is the God of all comfort. He does not change, though change in our world is inevitable. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and the One who comes alongside, our constant companion who never leaves or forsakes us. We are never orphaned, never widowed, never strangers in the kingdom of God. Jesus is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

The Westminster Confession of Faith begins with "What is the chief end of man?" And the answer is, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." The Heidelberg Catechism, however, asks first, "What is your only comfort in life and in death?" And the answer is:

"That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil.

He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."

This is followed in the catechism with three things you must know to live and die in the joy of this comfort: first, how great is our sin and misery; second, how we are set free from all our sins and misery; third, how we are to thank God for such redemption.

There are consequences to violence and opposing God’s laws and ways. There are consequences for persecuting Christians and judgments for breaking God’s laws. Those who destroy the earth will be destroyed. (Revelation 11.18) The one that leads into captivity shall go into captivity. The one that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. (Revelation 13.10) Yet in His wrath, God remembers mercy, and for those who show mercy, mercy is extended. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Consider promises of comfort in God’s Word. God promises to help, to uphold, to ease distress and bring consolation. He comforts all who mourn. He comforts as a mother. He replenishes every sorrowful soul. He has compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. He is a stronghold in the day of trouble and answers those who call upon His name.

Natural disasters deliver some and destroy others. In the midst of every tragedy there are stories of survival and miracles. People find themselves affected in the core of their being. What is valuable and what really is not becomes more apparent. And every event is an opportunity to become bitter or better.

Paul found a great earthquake to be God’s answer to prayer. At one point in his life of taking the gospel to the Gentiles, he and Silas were put in prison in Philippi, their feet fast in the stocks. At midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God loud enough for the other prisoners to hear. Suddenly there was a great earthquake. The foundations of the prison were shaken. The doors opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed. It was their chance to escape, but instead Paul and Silas stayed put. The keeper of the prison was so scared he would have killed himself for failure to keep his prisoners safely as he had been charged; but with this turn of events, he came trembling and fell down before Paul and Silas, asking, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" That changed everything—again! You can read all about it in Acts chapter 16.

Paul learned the secret of contentment. He found his consolation in Jesus Christ. Read about his life. It wasn’t a life of ease and continual prosperity. He knew trouble, perplexing moments, persecution, despair, beatings, imprisonments, and more. But in the flux and flurry of life Jesus was his constant, so he could come to write:

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who
comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort
wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the
sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also
abounds by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is
for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual
in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also
suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your
consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast,
knowing, that as you are partakers of the sufferings,
so shall you be also of the consolation. (2 Cor. 1.3-7)

What does the Bible actually mean when it uses the term comfort? The Greek word for comfort means: a calling, to summon to one’s side; entreaty; to speak kindly and with tenderness; consolation; to persuade; to cheer up, be of good courage; to soothe; to exhort by consoling. The English word for comfort comes from an Old English root meaning "to strengthen" and implies refreshment, invigoration mentally or physically. The idea is to cheer up, to restore confidence, to animate, to bring relief in distress or depression.

God desires to bless us and calls us to return to Him, to keep His commands, not in legalism or licentiousness, but in love. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Love opens its heart and arms with a gospel of grace to a hurting world. Love leads the lost to the Comforter in a world of change. Love answers the call, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?"

Every disaster, every crisis, every turn and change is an opportunity to either blaspheme God or give glory to His name. God offers you Himself as Comforter. He desires to be known, experienced, loved for who He is. He desires your heart, and He sends His messages in a big way. How will you respond to Him?

We have responded to God’s call and have mission teams going to the Caribbean and to Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia this year.

We will also be helping a ministry in Thailand reaching out to men and women who are either snatched away into a life of prostitution or enter into prostitution because they have no other real choice. It is a growing concern in the aftermath of the tsunami, and we want to help this ministry working in Thailand and Southeast Asia addressing issues of forced prostitution and human trafficking. Once people are encouraged and helped to leave prostitution, this ministry provides restaurants and training as a viable means of alternative income. Mark and Christa Crawford head up this vital work.

If you would like to be part of this, please designate your gift this month "Thailand."

Our next Barnabas Project mission outreach to the South Florida migrant workers will be in early March, another opportunity to help those still recovering from the hurricanes that hit Florida last year. Donations designated "Barnabas Project" will be used to buy school supplies, underwear, Bibles and books in Spanish, dictionaries, and other needed items.

For His glory,

Mary Craig

P.S. In the area? Worship with us at Craighouse®, located in the Pompano Plaza at 114 E. McNab Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33060. We have a new worship team—very anointed. People bring people to help and hope in Jesus, and they are saved, healed, and delivered by the grace of God at Craighouse®. Visit www.craighouse.org for more!

For whatsoever things
Were written aforetime were written
For our learning that we through patience
And comfort of the Scriptures
Might have hope. (Romans 15.4 KJV)


If God leads you to help us in this ministry, please mail your gift to...

Mary Craig Ministries
P.O. Box 4610
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33338-4610

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*Mary Craig Ministries is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All gifts are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

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