“COMFORT FOOD”                                        By Pastor YAU

Text: John 14:16-20                                          November 2, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A modern-day prophecy: On August 28, 2008, OUR DAILY BREAD devotional featured the writing of Bill Crowder on comfort food. He admitted that when he was in stress, he loves all kinds of comfort food which included beef and potatoes, hamburgers and French fries, meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy and chocolate in almost any form imaginable, just to list a few. He said, that these foods speak to him and say that all is well with the world. This writing was written months before.

2)   A modern-day fulfillment: On September 29, 2008, just a month later, the financial system of the world tumbled down and bellied up. News reports indicated that while most of the sales of goods were on the decline, the sales of comfort food are way up. Foods like ice creams, hamburgers and fries, chips and chocolate in all kinds, candies and cookies, etc. were sold much more than anything else. The analysis: when things in the world turn bad, people try to find temporary comfort from consuming more comfort foods.

 

COMFORTS IN THE BIBLE: The Bible records more than 120 listings the word “comfort” is used in various forms.

1)   Comfort for Isaac: “Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebecca so she became his wife, and he loved her, and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” (Gen. 24:67) This is a beautiful story of love and comfort. Being a devoted son, Isaac was greatly saddened and grieved on the death of his mother Sarah. It was until he married Rebecca, a cousin from his mother’s family he was comforted by a woman in his life. The comfort between mothers and their children and husbands and wives is always crucial of a sweet home. Parents and children and spouses are supposed to comfort and support each other especially in time of stress and sorrow.

2)   Comfort for Job: “When Job’s three friends heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.” (Job 2:11)This is one of the beautiful stories of great friendship. After Job had suffered great losses of family, wealth and health, his friends came to visit him, stayed with him for 7 days and 7 night. (2:13)They all left the comfort of their homes and came to lend Job their hearts of love and comfort when Job was in great stress and sorrow. This is what friends are for: in times of need and support.

3)   Comfort for Israelis: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 66:13) Because of the rebellion and idol worship, God allowed his people, the Israelis to be captured and disbursed among the Gentiles where they suffered persecution and humiliation. When they cried out to God for deliverance, God sent prophet Isaiah to announce hope and comfort. God told them that as a gentle and loving mother comforts her children, He would comfort them the same way. Even under suffering because of our sins, God will comfort us if we repent our sins.

4)   Comfort for believers: “Praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)Sometimes human comforts are not good enough when the pain is so deep. God knows the grief of our hearts and our helpless condition and He will always send support and comfort to sustain us, to lead us and to strengthen us no others can. While human comforts are good and welcome, we should seek God who is the source of all comfort.

 

HOW TO SEEK COMFORT?

1)    Facing the truth: “What a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:24a) This is a cry for help when facing his insurmountable problems. Paul struggled to overcome the sinful nature in his body and failed miserably so he cried out for help. There are people who deny they have problems in their lives. They pretend to be well when things in their lives are just messy and wrong. Admitting and facing our problems is the first step in seeking comfort. Hiding problems will only get them worse and deeper.

2)    Seeking for comfort: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (7:24b)Acknowledging you have a problem is one thing willing to seek help is another. Paul didn’t just cry for his pitiful condition, he sought someone to help him solve the problem. No comfort may come if we are too proud to ask for help. If you know you are sick but won’t go to see a doctor, you are not going to get well by yourself.

3)    Accepting comfort: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (7:25) Be gracious and humble to receive comfort from God is the best way to recover from stress and sorrow. We need to be thankful when God extends His love, mercy and grace to lift us up from our pit. Only God’s comfort is complete and powerful that will last forever to restore our soul.

4)    Choosing right: “They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam.” (2 Peter 2:15)Balaam was the prophet who was brided to curse God’s people. When you are in stress and sorrow, you need to seek comfort the right way, not following the world to indulge yourself in comfort food like ice cream, double meat burgers and tons of salty French fries or chocolate or else. No comfort food is going to bring you out of stress. Never even think of going to alcohol or drugs for comfort. Temporary relief of stress from these comfort foods can only bring you more stress and harm later.

 

THE REAL COMFORT FOOD: John 14:16-20

1)     Jesus cares for us: “I will ask the Father.” (14:16a) The subtitle of John 14 is “Jesus comforts His disciples.” He did so to relieve their stress because of his coming departure to heaven. The disciples were so stressful facing separation from their Master. So Jesus told them, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” (14:1)Then he promised to ask the Father to take care of his disciples. Never doubt that Jesus may leave you along to face all the troubles by yourself. He knows what you need and will meet those needs.

2)     He has a plan for us: “And He will give you another Counselor (Comforter, KJV) to be with you forever.” (14:16b)Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit (17) in his place when He is gone back to heaven. God will never leave you alone to handle all the problems you may have. This Comforter is going to stay with you and has a plan to help you solve your problems.

3)     He will stay in us: “But you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you.” (14:7)This Comforter is not like ice cream or chocolate or any other kind of comfort food. They may give you temporary relief and then disappear. But the Holy Spirit will stay in your heart and continue to bring insights, guidance, support and direction so you can have the real comfort.

4)     He will not abandon us: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (14:18)Orphans are helpless children left behind by parents without protection or care or supplies. God promised never to abandon us like some parents abandon their children. He promised to come back and bring us to be with Him. (14:3)

5)     He promised us to live: “Because I live, you shall live also.” (14:19)This phrase has inspired many compositions of majestic hymns and cantatas. (213 in our hymn book). Death is the end of all fear and hopelessness. But Jesus promises us we shall live because He lives. This is the best comfort God can give to anyone who believes in Him. In Him, we will continue to live.

6)     He promised us to know: “On that day you will realize (know KJV) that I am in my Father, and you are in me and I am in you.” (20) There are many things about life and troubles, pain and suffering we don’t know much less understand. But Jesus promises us that we will know everything on that day when He comes back to bring us to the presence of God. Our comfort doesn’t rest on knowing everything now, but on a God who promised us that we will know them all.

CONCLUSION:

1)   This is a troubling world: “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33a) From the tumbling economy to your rapidly shrinking retirement savings, from sky-rocketing unemployment to the loss of house values and dozens of other troubles we are facing, no one needs to be reminded that we live in a troubling world. Living in a troubling world is not the worst thing. The worst is we get panic, scared and become hopeless without God.

2)   There is the real comfort: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (16:33b) Don’t go to the easy route by over indulging in comfort food or alcohol or drug or any other unwise acts for temporary relief. Come to God through Jesus Christ. He has a plan for your real comfort and bright future. In Him there is no darkness but eternal light.

3)   There is a plan for you: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) There is no other place better than coming to Jesus when you are going through difficult time. Come to Him and give him all your trouble and burden and he will give you real rest of life.