The God of Comfort for a Day of Trouble
October 2, 2022
One writer has said, “Life is full of disappointments. The biggest catastrophes (wars and tsunamis) and the smallest inconveniences (lower back pain and unfulfilled desires) infuse unrest into our lives. Trials snatch peace from us.” [Menikoff, Character Matters.]
Meg was the mother of two children, Peggie and Joey, born with cystic fibrosis. Joey died at the age of 12; Peggie endured into her twenties before dying at the age of 23. Meg, the wife of a pastor, wrote a letter to a friend explaining how Peggie died:
The weekend before she went into the hospital for the last time, Peggie came home all excited about a quotation from William Barclay her minister had used. She was so taken with it that she had copied it down on a 3 × 5 card for me: “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”…
After Peggie had been in the hospital for a while and things were not going well, she looked around at all the paraphernalia of death to which she was attached. Then she said, “Hey, Ma, remember that quotation?” And she looked around again at all the tubes, stuck the tip of her tongue out of the corner of her mouth, nodded her head, and raised her eyes in excitement at the experiment to which she was committing herself.…
I was sitting beside her bed a few days before her death when suddenly she began screaming. I will never forget those shrill, piercing, primal screams. Nurses raced into the room from every direction and surrounded her with their love. “It’s okay, Peggie,” one said. “Jeannie’s here.”
The nurses stroked her body. Eventually with their words and their touches they soothed her (though as time went on and the screaming continued, they could not). I’ve rarely seen such compassion. Wendy, Peggie’s special nurse-friend, tells me there isn’t a nurse on the floor who does not have at least one patient she would give one of her lungs to save if she could.
So, it’s against this background of human beings falling apart—nurses can only stay on that floor so long—because they could not do more to help, that God, who could have helped, looked down on a young woman devoted to Him, quite willing to die for Him to give Him glory, and decided to sit on His hands and let her death top the horror charts for cystic fibrosis deaths. [Yancey, Disappointment with God, 177-9.]
You feel the pain of that woman’s suffering, don’t you? You hear the questions and the hurt. You sense the longing for comfort — comfort for her daughter, for her, for her family. From where will comfort come?
It was a different kind of suffering, but the Israelites also had questions about their suffering: Israel had been taken into captivity to Assyria (722 b.c.; 100 years later, Judah followed into captivity to Babylon. And 70 years after that, the nation of Israel started to return to return to her land. But they were still suffering oppression while in the land, and in their discouragement and fear, they did not complete the rebuilding of the temple after laying its foundation.
Zechariah addresses them with prophecies to exhort them to finish the temple. And in this morning’s passage we see him encourage them with the revelation of a vision of God’s comfort in their trouble.
God has sufficient comfort for His people’s troubles.
This morning, we consider Zechariah’s first vision:
- What Zechariah Saw (vv. 7-8)
- What Zechariah’s Vision Meant (vv. 9-11)
- What Zechariah’s Vision Teaches About God’s Comfort (vv. 12-17)
- God comforts by providing an intercessor for God’s people (v. 12)
- God comforts by jealously loving His people (vv. 13-14)
- God comforts with righteous retribution on the ungodly (v. 15)
- God comforts with an ultimate provision for His people (v. 16)
- God comforts with a renewed commitment to His promises (v. 17)
Download the rest of this sermon on Zechariah 1:7-17.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.