1Th 4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Joh 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
In a couple of my recent articles I spoke of what it is to be led by the Spirit and how we need to avoid the tendency to think being led by the Spirit is primarily direct revelation or feelings. Instead, it is primarily by following the Word with a heart that loves God above all else. As I have just started preaching through the book of 2 Corinthians and the first main topic is comfort, I found myself making the same application when it comes to finding comfort in afflictions.
Just as we are often tempted to ask the Lord to just tell us what job to take or who to marry, etc. so when it comes to afflictions we can be tempted to pray that the Lord would comfort us and then sit back and wait to be comforted. We need peace and so wait for feelings of peace; we need patience and so wait for a more patient frame of mind; we need our nerves to calm down and so wait for a “peaceful, easy feeling”. But I think if we stop and think about this we see that it is not the general way the Bible teaches that we will be comforted.
The error is that it is praying for something but not willing to exercise the means God has ordained to get what we need. Yes, we are to pray for such things but we are not to presume that that is all we need to do; not when there are duties we have been given to find God’s comfort. Yes, God is the God of all comfort but he primarily does this through the Holy Spirit applying truth to our thinking as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. He comforts us because of what he has done for us and that being applied to our thinking.
Praying alone can be a lazy and presumptive approach to the Lord working in our minds in that it doesn’t do the work of listening to God and acting accordingly. It doesn’t honor the Lord because it isn’t believing by faith that what the Lord says is true and find peace and calmness and patience in truth; it just wants the Spirit to bring calmness upon us much like a drug.
If all we want is to not be anxious and to have a peaceful, easy feeling, then take a tranquilizer or smoke a joint or drink until it all goes away. But if we want to honor the Lord, then take what he has done for you and the promises and meditate on them until it sinks in and be at peace and be patient because the Holy Spirit has caused you to believe and understand the Word and you are using it to live by.
The world makes fun of us because they think we are using God as a crutch to get through life’s difficulties. Of course, it is okay for them to use drugs, sex, and alcohol as a crutch. But let us not be tricked into thinking we can use God like some use a joint; that we can just pray and he will magically bring peace and comfort upon us. It comes through understanding what is going on in every situation. God is working all things for an eternal weight of glory and he can do this because Christ has made peace between God and sinners.
It is as I come to more fully understand truths such as this one that I am able to find comfort. Surely the Holy Spirit can bring about any emotion he wants to in our life, but we start to walk all around hyper-Calvinism when we assume he creates emotions and feelings apart from our pursuit of his Word. We are not robots; we are people who have had their eyes opened to the glories of Christ and our own exceeding sinfulness. Let us pursue holiness by loving Christ with all our hearts; not by praying the God will do everything for us.
Does not 2 Peter seem to suggest the same idea when he speaks of the attributes that come through the knowledge of Christ? 2Pe 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2Pe 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 2Pe 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2Pe 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 2Pe 1:6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 2Pe 1:7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2Pe 1:8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And then he ends the book with this: 2Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. There just isn’t anything more important for a Christian.