I am only a few chapters into the book, but it has been such a help and encouragement to me!
It is not a deep theological study, but rather a practical guide for living a more abundant, joyful Christian life.
The author had once had a conversation with an agnostic who declared, “The Christians I meet seem to me to be the very most uncomfortable people anywhere around. They seem to carry their religion (faith and trust in The Lord Jesus Christ) as a man carries a headache .” ( from page 7 and 8)
Hannah Smith was very disappointed to hear that Christianity… whose fruits were declared in the Bible to be love, joy and peace… should so often work out practically in the opposite direction, and should develop the fruits of doubt, fear, unrest, conflict, and discomforts of every kind.
We today are not that different, are we? I had to ask myself which type of fruit I displayed to the watching world around me? Do I usually display the love, joy and peace that is to characterize the Christian’s life, or do others see discontentment, conflict, worry and discouragement? It is a convicting question! We are Christ’s representatives to those who do not yet have a relationship with The Lord. Does our behavior and outward countenance draw them to the Savior or repel them and make them glad that they are not so miserable as we?
The answer lies, according to this author (and I agree wholeheartedly), in KNOWING God and actually BELIEVING what He has promised in His word! As Christians, we probably would all say, “Oh, yes, I know God and believe the Bible.” But I would challenge that. I know from personal experience that when severe trials and suffering come, sometimes it is not as easy to REALLY know God and believe His word. It can be easy to “say” we do, but it is much harder when our circumstances are out of our control to put this into practice in our daily lives. Our thoughts and minds crowd out the Word of God, and instead of finding His comfort and peace, we allow ourselves the self-indulgence of following the easy path of fear, worry, discouragement, and discontentment. We cannot do this, and expect the fruit of the Spirit to be displayed in our lives. God’s peace, joy, love and comfort are continually and abundantly being offered, but we MUST, by faith, receive them, in order to know their blessing and benefit.
In the book, “God of All Comfort,” there is a compelling thought that I would like to share with you. Many of you are aware of my two major surgeries this past year and my struggles through the healing process these past nine months. Many times I certainly felt like I was in a wilderness with no way out. This statement really spoke to my heart and I trust you will find it interesting as well.
“We find ourselves, it may be, in a ‘wilderness’ of disappointment and of suffering, and we wonder why the God who loves us should have allowed it. But He knows that it is only in that very wilderness that we can hear and receive the ‘comfortable words’ He has to pour out upon us. We must feel the need of comfort before we can listen to the words of comfort. And God knows that it is infinitely better and happier for us to need His comforts and receive them, than ever it could be not to need them and so be without them.” (from page 40)
My heart was overwhelmed with gratitude to our precious Lord when I read that paragraph. I was filled with thanksgiving that He would allow me the privilege to hear His words of comfort that He has been faithfully providing this past year, although I haven’t always been listening. I have come to thank The Lord for the struggles and trials as they have caused me to redirect much of my thinking and attitudes of the past, and best of all, I better know my Savior!
I have been making a list these past months of some of the great blessings in suffering and pain that God has helped me to come to understand:
- A deeper desire for the Lord’s return;
- Less concern and desire for material things;
- Increased prayer life;
- Increased desire for heaven;
- Learning greater dependence on The Lord and others;
- Putting life and priorities in a better perspective;
- Developing more gratefulness for the little things;
- Increased compassion for others in pain and struggles;
- An opportunity to really “live my faith”;
- Deeper understanding of how brief and precious life is;
- Greater understanding of my weakness in contrast to the strength and power of God;
- To practice daily “living in His presence” and above the circumstances of life—truly finding my peace, joy and comfort in Him.
The Lord still has so much to teach me, as I think I learn His lessons slowly, but I am thankful for His patience with me and thankful for His continued guidance and presence for whatever the future holds!
If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing. Thanks for your partnership.