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Comfort in Life and Death

How do we get back on our feet when a crisis hits?

Sun shining through snowy branches. Photo by Sinelev, Shutterstock.

"What is your only comfort in life and death?" This is the first question posed in the Heidelberg Catechism written more than 450 years ago.

Although I didn’t grow up in this religious tradition, today I find this statement of faith profoundly meaningful. The question is intensely personal. It doesn’t ask what "our" or "their" comfort in life and death is but what is "your" comfort?

Author M. Craig Barnes explains the meaning of this statement in Body & Soul: Reclaiming The Heidelberg Catechism, where I discovered that the word comfort implies strengthening. It is the type of strength that can get us back on our feet from devastating losses, personal tragedy, financial bankruptcy or emotional emptiness.

Many years ago I moved my family across the country from Boston to California in response to an invitation to do ministry work in Orange County. Although we had a buyer for our Boston home, we left before the deal closed and were maintaining two homes.

As we know, the real estate market has a mind of its own. One day I got the call that the value of the house was below asking price, and we were going to take a serious loss.

When I got the news I was devastated. We were in no position to handle this financial blow. It was a long and restless day until I found this comforting quote in one of Robert H. Schuller’s books, “It is not what we lose but what we have left.”

The message gave me strength. I felt as if the Lord was holding me tight and reassuring me that He would help me move forward. Indeed many good things have come my way since that day. In my distress He comforted me.

"What is your only comfort in life and death?" How do we get back on our feet when a crisis hits…when a child grows up to be different than we planned, we lose a loved one, we face life-changing illness or our job suddenly ends and our dreams fall apart?

The unexpected answer is: "That I am not my own, but belong–body and soul, in life and death–to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ." The is not a quick self-fix but the discovery that whether in life or death we belong to the Lord…we are His and He will take care of us.

How do you endure the unforgiving realities of life? I look forward to reading your comments.

Prayer: Lord, help us to surrender all of ourselves to your caring presence, that we would find your comfort and strength to see us through life’s unexpected challenges.

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