In the Bible, there’s a God who encourages
I discovered that my six year old niece who was always afraid of sleeping alone, has for some weeks now been sleeping in her own room. I asked her if she was afraid to sleep there, and she answered me:
“No way! Daddy’s home!!!”
This is also how our God wants to be with us:
· Isaiah 35:4 Be strong, fear not! Here is your God to save you!
· 2 Samuel 7:14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.
· Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.
Perhaps our idea of God is tied to a few of the rougher expressions of the Old Testament. In reality there are a ton of words of encouragement that He speaks to us in the Scriptures:
· Psalm 50:15 Then call on me in time of distress; I will rescue you.
· Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk. Our God is a father who as such consoles, reassures, gives rest.
· Isaiah 40:1 Comfort, give comfort to my people.
· Isaiah 49:13 The LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted.
The God of all consolation
Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (1:1-5) knows how to plant within us this sense that God consoles:
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is in Corinth, and all the saints throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.
When Paul wrote this letter, what suffering was he living? This Christian community that he had found was beginning to question his vocation as an apostle… all because of the rumors of certain important persons within the community (Apollo?). Paul was even publicly offended during an assembly by the words of one man. For this reason, and despite all this, Paul begins his letter praising God for his work of consolation and liberation.
In his suffering, his abandonment, his feeling himself disqualified as an apostle, Paul feels God’s consolation. Consolation that even confirms him as an apostle, because now he feels that he can console others in turn with the very same consolation with which he was consoled by God. Look at why, how strange, Paul blesses God in the midst of his suffering.
The spiritual man, therefore, can experience something that is humanly impossible to even imagine living: the merciful fatherhood of God and his consolation. The word console means: to raise up, to comfort, to give rest. The son of God, the spiritual person, can therefore experience God’s consolation that is his rest, his good pleasure, His Life.
How do we let God reach us with his consolation?
The words of Scripture: a girl that I met some time ago found peace one day in the midst of her desolation when, reading the Bible, she discovered that she was God’s daughter. Scripture reveals to us the profound sense of what we live, what we suffer. It has the power to let us discover the mission that such a trial is for us and for the others, the benefit that comes from it. And that has the power to console us!
The words and acts of men: In a very strange and difficult trial I underwent, I ran into a young priest who with his words was able to help me make sense of what was happening to me. His words were truly an illumination for me, and they gave me peace for a long time afterward. It’s not just the words of our brothers that have the power to heal us, but also their actions: a hug, a gift, an affectionate closeness. All this is consolation that God gives us through the others.
The Angels of Consolation: the Angels also have a mission of comforting us for God. Isn’t it written that an
Angel consoled Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? If we believe in this charism God gave them, and we invoke them, they will come close to us and give us rest. Therefore, God, the Father of mercies consoles us in all our affliction.
Tribulation is an Unction (Anointing)
Paul blesses God because in suffering, he experienced his consolation and because now he can console the others with the same consolation he received.Tribulation then becomes an UNCTION. He anoints us ministers of consolation. Which consolation? “The consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” There’s the risk of offering another type of consolation, human, worldly consolation. Here instead we are talking about offering the divine Consolation which is:
– Fruit of a vocation
– A gift of the Spirit that makes us capable of empathy, sympathy, and compassion (compathy).
Think of a dark time in your life and reflect on how God showed you His consolation. Remember the Words of Scripture that helped you in that situation, the great words and actions that your brothers gave to you to bring you rest. What you remember will be the instrument in which you console others, and the space will allow your heart to accept and love others.