Babies suck their thumbs, or carry a favourite blanket until it’s a mere scrap. Food is a comfort for some people, while others enjoy a warm drink for relief. Many go shopping to boost their contentment-levels.
As a child, I loved to hear the rain on the roof when I was home in bed with a cough while the rest of the children were at school in the wet weather. Only a couple of nights ago, when I heard the patter of rain on our roof, I was immediately blessed with feelings of solace and security.
Familiar things: a comfortable chair, a well-worn garment, or a tidy home, can provide the same relief and contentment. I find pleasure in looking at a garden bed that an hour earlier was full of weeds, but now makes me feel as if I’ve given it some love. We all seem to have our comfort zone that we rely on. Do you have a go-to person for comfort in times of stress or when you need to share a blessing? Your spouse, a friend, or a carer?
As I’ve pondered on this, I couldn’t help but think of the other Comforter – the perfect one whom Jesus promised would come and take his place when he’d gone back to heaven. I saw how Jesus was saying to his friends, ‘I’ve been with you and comforted you; now someone else will provide all that’. What ways did he comfort them? Well, just knowing he was there for them; being aware of his great power, and his amazing love in spite of their failings – all these must have been an enormous relief for the disciples. The serenity of Jesus in the storm on the lake when they thought they were going to perish; his firm hope in his Father’s provision when all they had to offer a large crowd of people was a boy’s lunch of a few rolls and two fish. And the great wisdom he brought to all the situations they experienced together.
In the language of the 1830s, Charles Dickins used the word ‘comforter’ to describe what we in Australia would now call a scarf – something to wind around our neck in the winter as protection against the cold. It was a covering, and that’s what Jesus had been for his disciples. Today they’d say, ‘I’ve got your back!’ And now Jesus was telling them that it was time for their covering to be removed. Imagine their dismay! However, he’d never let them down before. And he surely sent them another comforter!
When many people had turned away from him, he’d asked his faithful few, And will you also go away?’ Peter replied, ‘To whom, Lord, shall we turn? You have the words of eternal life! ~ John 6:67-68.
Comfort speaks of security. Where do we look when we need it – even a tiny scrap of security from Jesus was worth more than anyone else could provide. So when he said he’d ask his Father to send another Comforter to stay with them forever, and called him ‘The Holy Spirit’, it fulfilled their longing for the same security that Jesus was to them in those years when they walked with him.
More than ‘rain on the roof’, the comfort of a baby’s thumb, or even a satisfying trip to the shops, the Holy Spirit will answer our call with an abundance of comfort. And that’s not all he does – he’s our guide, our advocate, our helper, and more! Why do we wait to ask him for it all when that’s what he willingly came to do?