Sing for joy, O heavens! Rejoice, O earth! Burst into song, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on them in their suffering. Isaiah 49:13 ~ NLT
How often do you gloss right over words without even thinking about what they mean? It’s especially easy to do when you’re reading something you’ve already read or know well. Like some scripture. There are verses we’ve read or heard dozens of times or more in our lives – John 3:16, Luke 2, Psalms 23 – so we mentally check that box and move on. Know it, got it, next.
What first inspired this He Says I Am project was a section of a video Bible Study by Jenny Allen. In one of the later sessions of “Get Out of Your Head” her video shows a screen of some of the truths that God says about us. She read single words of truth as they filled the screen. Words that we should use to change our thinking, to combat the lies we believe about ourselves. You are redeemed. You are loved. You are protected. You are righteous. You are strong. You are beautiful. You are a daughter of the King. On and on they went. So very powerful.
Those are words that can’t be ignored. They’ve not nice little thoughts that you can tuck away in a corner then whip out occasionally when you need a pep talk. They are truths, with weight, with power. The kind of power that changes a life.
I call these words throughout scripture that God assigns to His children “affirmations.” They are who God says we are. Inarguably, unerringly, perfectly and completely…they tell us who we are in him. As I identified the affirmations in scripture, I asked myself, “What does that really mean?” So, I looked up their definitions from multiple sources. I also looked up synonyms. These actions help give me a more complete meaning of the word. They help me know more fully these truths that God’s declares about me.
Let’s walk through a few of my word exercises. Comfort is a beautiful word to illustrate. Here are some definitions:
1. state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint
2. the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress
3. acts or words that bring relief from grief or trouble
4. the feeling of being cheered
5. something that makes a person comfortable
Take those and relate it to the fact that God comforts us. For example, God eases my grief and distress. God takes action that brings relief from my trouble. God cheers me. Ultimately, God will allow me to live free of pain without constraint.
Here are some synonyms: cheer, consolation, relief, solace, contentment, convenience, enjoyment, happiness, luxury, pleasure, relaxation, satisfaction, warmth, well-being, compassion, encouragement, uplift, assure.
God brings me warmth and encouragement. He brings me solace and contentment. He wants good things for me because He is good. He is kind. Let’s not get off track with this line of thinking. Because God wants good for us doesn’t mean that life will or should be easy. Good and easy (by our definitions) don’t always co-exist. But, no matter what God allows into our lives or what pits we dig ourselves into with our bad choices, we know that He is working all of it together for our good and His glory. We also know that He will comfort us through the difficult times.
I can't help by think about all the other things we turn to seeking comfort. Food, spending, unhealthy relationships, drugs, alcohol, work, busyness, acquiring more and more things. At best, those are temporary distractions. Real comfort that brings healing and peace only comes from a relationship with our Maker and Savior.
Finally, I look up words that mean the opposite. If something is true, its opposite or contradiction cannot also be true. Anguish, distress, heartache, heartbreak, torment, torture are opposites of comfort. If God comforts us, He does not and cannot torture us. If He is compassionate, He does not cause distress. God is not the author of heartbreak or distress or torment, or torture. He does not desire that we live those places.
God has comforted, He comforts, and He will comfort His people. He is compassionate, gracious and loving. He’s done His part. Now, it’s up to us to believe, accept and live assuredly in His truth.