Comforting Arms

Dr. Stephen Davy

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

There is a vivid memory etched in my mind—a day when one of my sons hugged a tree in our back yard. The tree had a “ladder” of nails driven into it, and he used them for climbing. I was about fifty yards away, watching and admiring the athletic prowess of my son, as he hung from the first branch eight feet from the ground. But his foot slipped off the nail and I saw his body swivel around to the other side of the tree.

As he held on to the trunk with one arm and wrapped a leg around the tree, he yelled for help. I began walking toward the tree, but in his moment of distress, he didn’t wait for me to arrive. Typical of the very young, he hadn’t yet discovered that sometimes it hurts more to let go than to hang on, so—he released his hold on the branch. He slid down the trunk and skinned himself on every nail protruding from the tree. A long bloody gash stretched from his waist to his chest.

He hit the ground, immediately bounded up, and came running. His feet were moving so fast that he even fell once as he ran. When he reached me, he leapt into my arms and began to wail. I just held him and hugged him, because I knew he was experiencing more pain than he had ever felt before. Although I am not a great father—in fact, sometimes, I’m not even a good father—I did what comes naturally to any parent witnessing his child in pain… I comforted him.

Why is it that we think God will do any less for His children? Why is it that we think God groans when He sees us coming to Him in pain? We assume He is thinking, “Oh, no… you’re hurt again?” If we, as fallen, sinful, earthly parents can comfort our children in times of distress, whatever the cause, how much more will our perfect heavenly Father comfort us in our distress—whatever the cause?

The word for comfort in Matthew 5:4 is not sympathy, which means to feel with, or empathy, which means to have experienced the same thing and feel with, but a combination of two Latin words which mean to put strength in; to infuse with power.

This means that God doesn’t just pat us on the back when we are in mourning; He gives us what we need to endure the pain of sadness. It’s as David said in Psalm 138:3, “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

Have you fallen from any trees lately? God will lift you up—blood, tears and all. So go ahead . . . wail to Him in your sorrow; cry to Him in your distress; jump into His arms of healing.

Your Father is waiting to hold you close to Him. Then you will learn what Christ meant when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn . . . for they shall be comforted.”


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