Is everyone comfortable this morning? One of the things I remember about going to church when I was a child was the seating. The church where my family attended had hard wooden pews with no cushions and with backs that seemed to go straight up. Those pews were hardly comfortable. These chairs are more comfortable, but I still wouldn’t classify them as really comfortable. You wouldn’t want to sit in this kind of a seat all day. To be comfortable, we would rather have a nice rocker-recliner.
What is comfort like for us as Christians? It is not like sitting in a comfy chair. No, it is much more like good hiking boots that get you through life with all of its challenges and difficult times. The first question of the Heidelberg Catechism talks about comfort when it asks: “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” What gives us the strength to make it through life with all of its challenges? Over the next few Sundays, we will be looking at the basics of the Christian faith summarized in Question and Answer One of the Heidelberg Catechism. We will be looking at reformed teaching as summarized in this great document. This morning, we want to focus on the idea of Christian comfort by looking at Psalm 62 which talks about real Christian comfort or rest and what the benefits are as well. Let’s read Psalm 62.
David gives us a beautiful picture of comfort or rest in Psalm 62. When David wrote this Psalm, he was facing a severe trial in his life. Something was evidently threatening his life. In midst of this, David writes: “My soul finds rest in God alone.” Why? David knows that God is his rock and fortress. A rock is a crevice or a crack in a rock where one can find protection. A fortress is clearly something that also provides protection. David knows that God will be his protection, his rock or fortress. He will be able to find real security and rest there.
That is a good picture of what the word “comfort” means. Comfort is not what we typically think. It is not sitting in our favorite chair with our feet up. It is not having enough money in the bank or in the checkbook. It is not having good job security. It is not having your family together, safe and sound, as you eat your favorite comfort foods. The word comfort literally means “with strength.” Biblical comfort or rest means that we have almighty God enabling us to stand. David knows that this comfort can come only from God alone for he stresses this repeatedly in verses 2, 5 and 6. Notice how many times he says “alone.” There is clearly no other source of comfort and strength for David. What gives David comfort is that fact that God alone is his rock and fortress.
We often feel like David felt in verses 3-4. We feel like a tottering fence when our jobs become vulnerable. We feel like we are going to topple over when family relationships crumble or when our health or the health of our loved ones fails. We like to think that we are so strong, but there are so many things that remind us that we are often like a leaning wall, a teetering fence. We need to have God’s presence with us to give us comfort through God’s strength.
II. We obtain this comfort by recognizing that “we are not our own.”
The Heidelberg Catechism says if you want comfort, that is where you must begin: “I am not my own.” I am not in charge of my own destiny or future, and in fact, I don’t even belong to myself. I am not a master, but in fact I am a slave. By myself, I am a leaning wall, a tottering fence. We don’t like to think those kinds of things for we like to be strong and important. We need to realize we are not as important as we think we are.
But someone may then ask, “Does this make me less of a person to admit that I am not my own?” Not if we view ourselves as God views us. First of all, God originally made us to be good; in fact, we are created in God’s image. God is the master craftsman and all He makes is good. Look at the world He created with all its intricacies and beauty. The same God who created the world and sustains it, made you and me. Secondly, God has saved us through Jesus Christ. God was willing to send his only Son to earth to die for us. He redeemed us so we wouldn’t have to be punished eternally. God must certainly see a great deal in us that he is willing to pay such a price to rescue us. We will look at that more next week. We do not belong to ourselves, but God gladly claims us as His own and that makes us very special!
III. There are benefits of belonging. There are three that I would like to mention this morning.
First, because we belong to Christ, we can be assured that we will spend eternity with God in heaven. Let’s be honest. There are times when life on earth can become very discouraging. When disappointment follows upon disappointment, it is good to know that eventually we will be living in heaven where there will be no tears, no sadness and no bitterness. We will enjoy all the beautiful blessings of heaven. It is good to know that someday all will be perfect again. But there are more than just future benefits; there are also present ones.
We can also find rest, security and comfort in our personal lives. When family relationships seem to be reaching the breaking point, you will find security, strength and comfort in God alone. When things happen that make the future uncertain, God is there to be our rock and fortress. Regardless of what we face, if we belong to Jesus, we can enjoy God’s rest, which is true comfort.
And finally, while we can enjoy the gifts of salvation and comfort in Jesus Christ, we also have the benefit of serving the Lord in all we do. God is certainly our refuge at all times, but he never intends for us to hide in him from the world. Because of this great comfort we have, we must go out from the safety of the fortress and challenge the world with the reality of the Kingdom of God. We must, therefore, go out into the world and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ even to those around us who would just as soon not hear it. In other words, we must seek to share the comfort we have with those who have none. We must feed the hungry; minister to the sick and sorrowing. We must offer encouragement to the discouraged. We must offer hope to those whom the world has rejected.
And we must share the good news of Jesus with those who do not belong to Him. How many people have you encountered in your workplace or neighborhoods who believe that the way to get to heaven is to be “good enough?” That is a very common misunderstanding of Christianity: people have to be good enough to get to heaven. And the result is that they live in uncertainty and fear in the presence of God. These people need to hear about the love and grace of God shown in Jesus Christ. People who don’t know anything about Jesus need to hear about this grace as well and we need to share the good news with them too. And that is not easy; in fact, it may become frustrating, tiring, discouraging and frightening. However, God wants us to do whatever we can to share the comfort with others.
Listen to what Walter Maris says next: “I had invested 30 minutes of time and effort in another person’s life. Rarely are emergencies convenient; but if we are to give aid and comfort, we must make ourselves available when others need help. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us to look out for one another. God ministers to others through us when we serve those in need.” We can come up with lots of excuses for not putting forth some effort, but who knows how God will work when we share the comfort we have from God with others?
What comfort can you bring in the world around you in this coming week? Maybe it is a word of encouragement to one who is discouraged. Maybe it’s some comfort to one who is hurting. Perhaps a kind word to one who is lonely or feeling rejected. Maybe it’s simply the fact that it is Jesus alone, in his death and resurrection that saves us. Do you have the comfort that is being described in Psalm 62? Not an easy, luxurious life, but strength, security and power from God. If not, ask yourself if you really belong to God in Jesus Christ. If you don’t, give your life to Christ and let Him fill you with His comfort and strength. And if you have that comfort, are you doing what you can to help others experience God as their rock and fortress as well?