July 19

Don’t Refuse God’s Comfort

Genesis 37:33-35 And [Jacob] recognized [Joseph’s bloody tunic] and said, “It is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted [emphasis mine], and he said, “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.

Isaiah 66:13a As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you….

II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

When Jacob was presented with the bloody so-called “evidence” of his son Joseph’s death, he understandably mourned and grieved. The other children tried to comfort Jacob, but for reasons left unexplained, he refused to be comforted.

Some have suggested that Jacob’s position was more of an official one, that by not accepting comfort, he was sparing his other children from legal responsibility for losing Joseph. On the other hand, he could have held out hope that Joseph would return, and secretly didn’t quite believe that his son was dead. Yet Scripture isn’t clear on the reasons, perhaps leaving the obvious to our interpretation: He was deeply saddened and didn’t want to budge from his grief. The apparent depth of Jacob’s grief is suggested by his stating that he would “go down to the grave to my son in mourning.” This simply meant that he would spend the rest of his life in mourning until he met Joseph in the place of the dead.

Clearly this isn’t what God has for us. While there can be false comforters (see all of Job) and we are encouraged throughout Proverbs to be sensitive to those in mourning, God is our Comforter, and He seeks to comfort us in our grief.

Holding onto grief too long isn’t healthy, and it’s not God’s will for us. Some of us have issues of control, and holding on to grief and refusing to be comforted is a stand we take to maintain control over a situation over which we have no real control.

Yet, for whatever reason we may choose to refuse comfort, we eventually need to bow the knee to our Lord and let Him comfort us. It is a role He wants to take, and if we call Him Lord in truth, we must receive His role as Comforter. Not only does He love us and desire to free us from tormenting grief, He has chosen to use us to be comforters to others as we learn to receive His comfort—either directly from Him, through others, or both. This is how He equips people to bless others in this area. Let’s let Him comfort us, and in time, let’s take what He was given us and use it to comfort others.

Prayer: Father, thank You that You are a Comforter, and that You know exactly how to work with us to take away our grief and mourning. Help me to receive that comfort when I need it, and help me to see how I can be used to bless others in the same way when they need it.

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