Saturday, June 23, 2018

Crazy Busy . . Time Flies. . Guest Post

Well friends.  I didn't realize it had been THIS long!  Yikes.  I have had lots of things happening but haven't really thought to post anything.  I am thankful for my friend Taylor Phillips from Fortify who asked me to write something on radical trust.  Joseph certainly fits into that category.

Our Vacation Bible School has been studying the life of Joseph. This story is taking hold of me. Joseph’s life is all about radical trust (and brokenness). Often, I think we hope that radical trust means that once we are “all in” we will have a smooth path towards our goal and life plan. We think if we just caught the vision we could withstand anything. Well, let’s review Joseph’s life.

to read the rest click on over to Fortify.  

I hope that you are enjoying your summer.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Walking into a Promise

I am still in Deuteronomy (maybe by the time I finish the book, I'll be able to spell it).  In Chapter 11 he tells the people to circumcise their hearts and follow him.  That chapter is really about preparing your heart and life for what he has for you.  Many of us have heard that message before. What caught my eye is in the next chapter.  The moment is REALLY here - they are about to go in and God is giving them instructions about entering in.

Many of us have dreams and promises that we know are God's heart for his people.  We believe that the call of the body of Christ is to be part of making all things new in the world around us.   We realize that we have been given certain gifts, life experiences, and personality traits that God can use to his glory.  We know that the Gospel changes lives. What happens when you start walking into the promise.  This is what God says:

1.  You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. (Deut. 12:3) Faith in God alone (as Christians in Jesus' atoning work). As we enter into the promises he has given us, there are probably ways that aren't honoring to him in the land.  The Israelites faced real "false gods" we should anticipate nothing less.  However, it will look like wrong expectations, cheating, lying, just the way things are, the old boy network - whatever - all don't reflect God's vision of renewal and life.  You have to tear down those ways that don't speak to God's love and goodness for the people who are living in the "promised land" already (God doesn't command us to annihilate the people - his champion - Jesus - came to seek and save that which is lost - that's why we are entering the promised land.)  As we enter into difficult fields we can't let ANYTHING stand in our heart that does not point to Jesus and his saving work.  This is speaking truth to lies, justice to injustice, love to selfishness, grace to law and much more.  Idols and the old ways won't work in the renewing of the land.  We aren't fighting with people - we are renewing life in the midst of darkness and death.  You might end up doing unconventional things (witness Esther in the harem, Daniel as the chief astrologer and Jesus hanging out with prostitutes and tax collectors) but you should ALWAYS be yoked only to Jesus and following his lead. Other things can help people out (education, wealth, health) but only Jesus can save.

2.  But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes and put his name and make his habitation there.  (Deut. 12:5)    Obedience.  God has a plan for the renewal and promise to come to pass.  Are you seeking where God is or where demographic studies say you should be?  Are you seeking what God is choosing or what is trendy?  Are you inviting God to make his habitation in the midst of the promise and those he has called you to serve and love?  Are you willing to go where he sends you and how he sends you - or are you seeking your own way?  Is this issue even going to be settled in your tribe and are you the one called to do it?  Just because it seems to "fit" doesn't mean it is yours to do.  Ask?  Is God dwelling with you in this issue - is he renewing your mind with his thoughts towards his people and the situation?  Make sure you are going where God is and not hoping he will come bless your efforts at some side show!

3.  You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes, for you have not as yet come into the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you.  (Deut. 12:8-9)   Sacrifice with incredible reward.  Before, as the Israelites wandered in the desert, they did as they pleased.  However, that must stop for them to gain the promise.  They will need to do what God has called them to do to receive his promises (thus the whole book of Deuteronomy reminding them of all of it).  However, do you see what God's rewards are - REST and and INHERITANCE!

As you walk into your promise you will REST.  That doesn't even make sense until you start doing it.  You see, God had a crazy battle plan- JERICHO - remember they just walked around and the walls came tumbling down.  They weren't prepared to fight after wandering in the desert - God told them their enemies were big from the start - so God gave them an easy plan.  Watch what God will do. This is not to say you are taking naps and sipping at the pool side.  But, if you are doing what God has called you into - he will open doors, create contacts, find funding and help you walk into his promise.  If you are following his battle plan you can rest that he has figured it all out and you don't have to - you can just follow and obey in this moment. There will be battles and it will be tough but if you are in his will he is fighting with you. If you are stressed and striving - you need to return to that habitation question.  His ultimate goal is that his peace, his right rule and reign, would be restored in that area of promise.

The second is inheritance.  In the Old Testament the physical land is the inheritance.  In the New Testament we receive eternal life as a result of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He provides.  See, Jesus died and rose again and when he did, he promised his people an inheritance. He willed us all we need for life and godliness.  Not only did he give us an inspired book; but also, the deposit of the Spirit of God in us.  The Spirit is what died in the garden when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit.  However, Jesus' sacrifice opened the door and did away with sin - once for all - so that the Holy Spirit could dwell in us again.  If you believe that Jesus died for your sins then the Spirit dwells in you. You are now a temple of the most high God!  That's why Jesus said it is better that I go away - because the Spirit will come to you.  Well, that seems like an incredible inheritance.  Our inheritance is secure: our work is to partner with God in helping others find the security and freedom we have in Christ.

Wow!  That sounds wonderful.  Often, we don't want to give up doing whatever is right in our own eyes though.  Plus, have you read some of the CRAZY steps of faith people were asked to take in the Bible?  They weren't following a cause or a good idea - they knew the God of the universe and were trusting in His character to complete what they knew they never could do. How much more do we know and understand because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and his Spirit in us?   Are we willing to give up our own ways to walk into the promises he has for us?  We need to be ready to do only what we see the Father doing.

I realize that these were real instructions given to a people for a specific time and place.  However, I think that there are some things we can glean for today as we hope to enter into some of the promises God has given us.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Seeking Him First and Failing Forward

Today I am in 1 Chronicles reading about David.  We just learned about his mighty men.  David is on top and a MUCH better king than Saul.  In fact, David wants to do the right thing before God, "Then let us bring again the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul." (1 Chron. 13: 3)  David wants to set up right relationship with God - he is putting God first.

So, he rolls out a new cart to carry the Ark back to its rightful place - in the center of everything.  The people are ecstatic - David is dancing; there is a party going on.  They are doing the right thing before God.  Then it happens. "Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled." (1 Chron. 13:9)  You would have done the same thing - this is the ARK OF GOD - we aren't letting it fall to the ground.  God's response - he struck Uzzah dead.  Yep.  Died right on the spot.

This doesn't seem fair.  If you are trying to restore God to his right place why wouldn't he let this go - he was trying to save the ark - right?  Well, sort of.  You see, God was VERY specific about how the ark was to be transported - it was to be carried on poles that were specially made for this purpose.  David didn't get out the poles - he made his own way to return to God.  How often do we try to mix our ways with God's ways as we try to put him first?  God made a way - in Jesus - your lovely cart is not going to do it.  Follow his way.

Let's see how David responds.  

He was angry and afraid.  Honestly, I would be too.  I was trying to do the right thing and you killed my friend!  God had lashed out in what seemed like a really mean way.  So David thought, "How can I bring the ark of God home to me?"  (1 Chron. 13:12) 

Have you started to try and put God first - in the best way you know how - and everything starts falling apart?   You aren't alone.  This man "after God's own heart" tried to do the same and ended up hurt and disappointed.  In fact, he left the ark at a house nearby and went home without it.   The Lord blessed that household and, for a time, David missed the blessing.   God had made rules and David wanted the combo deal.  Can't do it!

This happens again and again in God's word.  Finally, someone's heart is right and he is ready to go for it and the first attempt is UTTER FAILURE.  Stephen, talking about Moses in the New Testatment explains, that "Moses supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand."  (Acts 7:25)  In fact, this is the point where Moses ends up in the desert for 40 years; because, they see him as a murderer as he defended a brother against the Egyptian oppressors.

What to say?

First, you will probably mess up BIG TIMEThat does not disqualify you.  Clearly, we know that this ark incident was not the worst thing David did.  If you are going to allow God to use you, expect to try and fail to follow him.   In fact, it shows that your heart is in the right place but you probably need to get more in synch with God's way of doing things - he is not Burger King - you can't have it your way.

Second, you will probably end up in "time out" with God.  That happens often in Scripture.  There is a high point, an aha moment and then - you end up without the ark, in the desert or next to a stream (Elijah).  You are thinking that you must have misheard?  You can't do any good now? Why was I such a fool to think God would use me?  Or, instead of questioning yourself, you might question God, with anger, fear or resentment.  All of this is part of the process.  Have you read the Psalms!  The question is  - will you decide to make God your steadfast rock and come out of the desert with him when it is time?  Moses didn't want to try again - but after the burning bush, he did.  David did figure out the right way to carry the ark and got it home again. 

In Deuteronomy, he is reviewing all the things that happened in the wilderness before the promised land and he explains, "the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart." (Deut 8:2)  Is that what is happening to you right now?  Are you finding yuck in your heart?  GREAT!!  Get it out of there - repent and trust in what Jesus did to atone for that.  Later in the passage he gives us encouragement, "that he might humble you and test you to do you good in the end." (Deut. 8:16) 

We are in the middle of the story.  Are we willing to trust that in the end GOD will do US GOOD?  After this reminder, God warns the people not to think that they came into the promised land on their own power.  You read the story and wonder - how could they forget?  Moses is gone 40 days and there is a calf at the base of the mountain.  How easily we forget?!  He uses these times to show us his character, our character and draw us to trust in him alone.  To remind us that the story is HIS and it is for HIS glory - not our comfort or our own glory.  God likes to use the foolish, lowly, crazy things of this world to advance his kingdom.  He is searching for those who are willing to put him in the center and fail forward.   Will you be willing to do that?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Warnings in the Waiting Time

Dueteronomy (did I lose you already) starts with a recap of the journey so far and some clear warnings.  I was surprised that God gave the same warning 3 times in the second chapter: "do not harass or contend".   The Israelites rejected the promise and then tried to take it on their own terms. They messed up big time.  As a consequence, God was going to take them back through lands that were promised to other tribes and peoples.  God warned them that this land was NOT their land and they were not to mess with the people as they passed through.  If you have kids this probably sounds familiar.  When my kids miss out on things they complain, whine, fight, might attempt to steal it back, try to take what they can get, debate, etc.  Essentially this is what God was expecting the disobedient Israelites to do.  I love looking in the 1828 dictionary for definitions:

harass - to weary, to fatigue to excess, to tease 
contend - to strive, to struggle in opposition 

So, what do you do when God isn't doing things your way?  What do you do in the waiting time? 

Instead of harassing and contending Moses told the people to pay for their food and drink, receive what they were given and follow God.   If you read the Bible people wait years, decades and potentially their whole lives for promises.  Hebrews 11 is a LONG list of people who lived their whole lives in expectation of the promise - and never saw it.  That is called faith.  Will you choose to trust God and follow?  Will you do this without fatiguing, harassing and striving against him or others to get your way?  Can you be patient and wait?  Will you walk into it when it is there (even if there are giants)?  Receive what you are given and follow.

In our own frustration and pain we might mess with others who seem to be blessed by God.  We want to disrupt what they have (harass and contend).  This is called jealousy and bitterness.  STOP!

Here is the deal about the inheritance on this side of the cross.  You get an inheritance when someone dies.  Jesus died and now we have the Holy Spirit as a deposit in us - the power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us.  Our inheritance is secure.  There is room for all of us.  Land is a finite commodity - there is only so much.  But the inheritance we have in Christ is available to ALL - there is no limit and no reason to be jealous about what someone else has.  God has given us all a role and a place - Christ is the head and we are the body. Are we walking into what he has given us?  Are we living in the power of the Spirit and the promises he has made to us?  Are we trusting even when we can't see?

In the in between time, instead of harassing God for what you want and striving or contending for your own plan, I encourage you to think on your inheritance.  Lean into Jesus and his truth.  Learn more about the way of the cross. Get to know your Savior and Lord.  Come to understand what Isaiah 30:15, "This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it." Learn the ways of repentance - do it quickly and restore relationships around you (as much as it is up to you).  Rest - cease striving - believe that God is at work even if you can't see it and don't understand it.  This doesn't mean become a sluggard but it does mean to stop trying to qualify yourself and push yourself to the front.  Ahh, quietness. Well, I clearly have much to learn about that.  I hear that it helps you listen to his voice more than your own though!  Trust leading to strength - trusting in God's character, resources, promises - more than our own. Who is stronger in the end anyway??   You have a secure inheritance - learn to live in the wealth of what Christ has done on your behalf.  All else is less than. 

Do you know what happens when the Israelites do come back around to the promised land?  This: "The Lord our God gave him over to us, and we defeated him, his sons and all his people."  God conquered on behalf of this rag tag bunch of desert wanderers.  This is before crossing Jordan and the infamous Battle of Jericho - his is contending for them when they follow his commands and desire to walk into his promises.  Only God!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thoughts on Self Control

Self control is a real struggle.  I am constantly trying to find control, control myself, encouraging young ones around me to control themselves.  Then, I realized that I have a worldly definition of this word - not a Biblical understanding.  I am still trying to figure out what all the implications of this shift are for me and mine.  

Let's talk science for a minute.  Remember when you started doing experiments there was always the "control".  The control is the thing that you compared your experiment to so that you could notice the change that occurred as a result of your work.  That is closer to the original definition of control.  In the 1828 dictionary the primary definition of control is "a book, register or account, kept to correct or check another account or register."  The secondary definition gets into what we think of more often - to check, restrain, or govern.  

So the issue with self control is twofold.  First, there is a standard.  Second, that your "self" compares itself to that standard and needs to meet it.  So which standard is your control?  Which law?  How are you going to keep that account correct?  How are you checking yourself? 

Here's the deal.  Most of us check ourselves (and our kids) against a standard that will make us fail every time.  It is called "law" or morality and maybe sometimes doctrine.  Often these laws are cultural norms that we don't even realize we believe.  Sometimes they are even Biblical ideas.  In our pursuit of meeting this standard we do one of two things.  Some of us choose "laws" that we can easily meet or pretend there is no law - I make my own laws.  God is pretty clear that he has written laws on our hearts and that you can't change them.  We think this method can work, for a while.  

I tend to err on the other side and add "extra" laws, like the Pharisees, to make sure that we don't get close to breaking the "big laws".  We say to ourselves, as Eve explained, God said don't even touch it.  Wait!  That's not what God said.  Eve added that extra bit in there.  That's what we do to help us stay out of trouble with the law and show "self control".  These "extra rules" help us feel like we have self control and are meeting the standard. This is also not a permanent fix.  We will fail when the "control" we choose is law.  We can't make it work. We can't be perfect enough. It will crush us.  We know that God's perfect law is the right standard but . . . 

all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23 

On our own terms, our way to "self control" is to either minimize the standard or set up extra standards to keep us safe.  But both fail and crush us. If we can't change the law - how will we meet the standard?  If we believe in the grace, mercy and the blood of Jesus - it's a totally different ball game.  If you have faith in Jesus instead of the law you can rest easy - he took care of it.  He fulfilled all of the law in your place.  His standard was perfection, he met it - every dot and tittle.  When you trust in Jesus you trade your mess for his glory.  He did it.  It is finished.  

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  Romans 3:24

"Justified" - just as if you never fell short, your report card and the control or standard match!  

"Freely by his grace"  it wasn't free for Jesus (keep reading - "God presented Christ as a sacrifice, of atonement, through the shedding of his blood" Romans 3:25)  But you can't pay for it, it is "to be received by faith" Romans 3:25.

Redemption - another word for that is ransom - Jesus paid the ransom with his blood 

This sounds ridiculous.  How can we just "trade" like that?  Why would the system be set up this way?  One reason for the law was to show us our need for Jesus.  We need a standard and his perfect law shows us that we can't "control" ourselves to meet that standard.  Thank you Jesus!  This is the folly of grace and the difficulty of the Gospel.  He perfectly fulfilled the standard for "self control" according to the law.  Not only that, he did one better and leaves us a deposit called the Holy Spirit.  The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, if you believe in that, lives in you and still works in the world today. 

If there is a standard that we can't reach it on our own - only through Jesus - then why does Galatians say to have self control?  

Well the two parts of control are a standard and a way to meet that standard.  Are you beginning to see why self control is a fruit of the Spirit?  Our goal is NOT to meet the legal standard to show self control - Jesus did that for us because we never could.  Our new "control" is to match ourselves with the Holy Spirit.  

This is a totally different way of approaching self control.  It is not about trying harder, doing more, denying yourself.  It is about tapping into the resurrection power of Christ available to us through the Holy Spirit and walking in line with that.  There is no law against what the Spirit of God will tell you to do - he leads us into all truth.  Leading a "self controlled" life is about aligning yourself to the Spirit as your standard - not the law.  It is also about teaching your kids the same. 

Take a look at Acts to get a sense of what this might look like.  Towards the end of his journey Paul talks about how he has no problems with his conscience.  Why is this?  Was he perfect?  The Jews were irate about this because clearly he wasn't fulfilling the standard of the law.  Paul had a different control -  the Holy Spirit. He knew he had walked in step with the Spirit and allowed the spirit to check, restrain (don't go to Asia) and govern him.  When he doesn't walk in step, he repents.  

Over and over again in Romans Paul explains how this freedom from the law is not an invitation to license but an open door to life with God.  If you are still trying to show self control by living according to the law, morality or straight doctrine and you are a Christian you are trying to re-do what Christ did for you.  STOP!!!   Christian "self control" is about following the Spirit as our standard and allowing his life in us to be our guide. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Dyslexia Journey . . . Finding the Source

Well I have been caught up in affairs around my house.  We realized our 8 yo son is dyslexic.  In the fall we watched Barton's videos and both my husband and I thought - well, maybe.  As we started thinking about enrolling him in school and talking with teachers for that age group we realized he is behind.  I am a "better late than early" kind of person, but he wasn't moving forward - even with some of the reading programs they suggest for dyslexics.  Granted, I did not implement all of the multi-modal stuff in my house, but still he wasn't remembering basic phonograms. Some of the red flags for us were fairly unsteady handwriting, skipping vowels in his spelling, still confusing the b and d (even in cursive - really!), not remembering simple words from one page to the next, having to sound out EVERY single word (the, but, and).  It was time to take action.

I am certainly no expert, but I love to research.  I have been reading books about teaching reading - for fun - before I had children.  That's why we taught cursive first and used an orton-gillingham based program!   Nonetheless, my child needs more help.

Vision Therapy

One of the first things to determine is if this is an eye tracking/teaming, focusing type issue or if this is a cognitive auditory processing issue.  My son can track words on a page, doesn't tire easily from trying to read, doesn't rub his eyes, etc.  I have a friend whose daughter had the tools to read but her eyes were having trouble tracking.  Another friend said her son had letters waving at him on the page.  These are the thing we don't even think to ask our kids.  So ASK YOUR CHILD what is happening on the page when they read.  You might be surprised.  Both of the friends mentioned above have their children in visual therapy and it has made a HUGE difference for them.  Some say that visual therapy can help most dyslexics - I really don't know what to say.  If your child seems to get the "process of reading" but tires easily or explains to you that the words are blurry or dancing or whatever - check into visual therapy.

Irlen Syndrome - Color Therapy 

Others talk about Irlen syndrome.  This has to do with how the brain deals with light and contrasts.  To solve this issue you should try the colored overlays.  They help to reduce glare and eye strain so that kids can read more successfully.  We did try this - briefly - but my son thought I was crazy thinking these things would help him.  So, that wasn't the right solution for us.  However, it has been very helpful to many people.  It is certainly worth trying.

Auditory Processing Issues 

Some children have trouble distinguishing the sounds being made so that they can separate them into their smallest unit.  Most dyslexics have this to some extent.  I honestly think my older son has some issues but because he did intense speech therapy for a year it helped him to match the sound and visual representations of those sounds (he still can't spell).  If your child doesn't seem to be able to produce or understand the difference between similar sounding sounds (th/v) etc. this might be the level you are at.  You can look into speech therapy programs that help you understand how to place the mouth to say different sounds and then teach your child learn how to produce those sounds properly and tie them to the letters we use to represent those sounds.   Lindamood Bell LiPS program does exactly this.  Although he does struggle with a few sounds this doesn't seem to be the root of his issue either.

Right Brain Children

Then I started reading about right brain children.  This seemed to fit my son VERY well.  He did have great spatial ability, he loved to draw and thinks in pictures, and he talked about how he could "flip" things around in his head.  Who knew?  I don't think this way.  As I read it became obvious that most of these kids aren't really ready to start reading until they are about 8 and it takes them time - just like everyone - to figure it out.  This fit into what my reading specialist friend said that around 4th or 5th grade her students began to "click" more with reading - they were now developmentally ready to do it.  The book The Dyslexic Advantage spoke right to my child's strengths.  It also explains how it might be a bit more than just "right brain/ left brain" issue.   The main take away is that my child does actually see and think about the world differently and I need to understand that! 

Following this thread led me to Dianne Craft and her right brain reading information.  She comes out of school setting and is trying to help kids be as successful as they can be in a school setting.  She uses visual memory to help students learn words.  We tried this some with my son and it was helping some.  We also got her book on Brain Integration Therapy.  Some of my friends had tried Brain Balance and similar programs and I figured - this couldn't hurt.  It was worth a try.  We have only been doing it for about 2 weeks and it made a difference the FIRST DAY.  His handwriting was a teeny bit improved.  We are trying to do it faithfully - but Spring Break!  Yesterday, I thought we would just do his reading exercises and we didn't do the brain exercises first.  Normally, he makes only one mistake in his dictation (at a kindergarten level).  Yesterday, he tried six times until he got it right!?  There is something to this brain integration therapy.  I honestly think the exercises are fairly similar to some of those used in vision therapy.  It is a focus on crossing the mid line and getting your eyes and fingers to track properly. 

Building on this brain difference we moved into the book The Gift of Dyselxia by Ronald Davis.   The Davis method has some controversy about its effectiveness.  However, this is the book that encouraged me to start asking my son about how he sees the world and realizing that he does see life in pictures and is really a visual learner.  The Davis program teaches kids how to stop spinning the words in their head and find a fixed point so that they can read from that point.  They also model all the letters and words in clay and learn the definitions of the "little words" that cause dyslexics such trouble - because they can't "see" what the word means.  It sounds a little wacky but it also is how my son thinks!

We met with the Davis specialist in our community.  She has been teaching for over 30 years and founded a special needs school in our community.  She is dyslexic and taught using orton-gillingham methods for years.  It wasn't until she did the Davis program when her daughter was diagnosed that she saw a huge change in her own reading ability and comfort.  She had made it through grad school struggling to read but after doing the work of Davis she now enjoys reading.  Their program is a one week intensive with long term homework (1 to 2 years)!!  We have decided to try this path for now. 

This doesn't even touch on the "learning to read" part.  That is a whole different issue and I will address it.  So far I have learned that dyslexic kids truly do think differently and develop on a different time table.  They have to work really hard to be able to do the essential task of reading (most interventions are intensive and take at least 2 years!).  I am so blessed that we have had him at home so that his difficulty reading has not stopped his learning.  We haven't spent tons of time focusing on his weaknesses, we have been able to develop his strengths.  We are just beginning this journey but hopefully some of what we have learned so far can help you as well. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Misunderstanding Comfort

I have been thinking about comfort recently.  I have known many people who need comfort - sickness, death, bad news in general, tough times.  Today, I realized my struggle with comfort.  I have confused the verb with the noun. 

The verb comes from the Latin word for "strength".  From the 1828 dictionary it means "to strengthen, to invigorate, to cheer and enliven". 

The noun means "relief from pain; ease; rest or moderate pleasure after pain, cold or distress or uneasiness of body".  The second definition explains how this can also apply to mental anguish.  Often we really are aiming at being comfortable again, "being in a state of ease or moderate enjoyment". 

Do you see the problem? 

Often when I try to "comfort" people I think my goal is to help return them to that state of ease or rest.  Well, you can't go back.  It makes me think of Job's friends, whom he chastises:

"I have heard many things like these;
     you are miserable comforters, all of you!
Will your long winded speeches never end?
     What ails you that you keep on arguing?"    Job 16:1 -2

Remember, the best thing Job's friends did was show up and BE QUIET with him in his misery.  It was when they started talking that all of these unhelpful things spewed forth. 

When we truly speak comfort we need to be giving people the courage and strength they need to bear under their new circumstances.   Focusing on the why me? if only? should I have? don't bring comfort.  Neither does blame, shame or guilt.  There is room for Godly repentance (depending on the circumstances) but it is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction - that's not your job. 

What is our role then?  Comforting people means that they leave with a renewed strength and faith in God.  They are reminded that He never leaves us or forsakes us. That in their weakness, he will show up, be faithful, love them, lead them, care for them and be bigger than they are.  It isn't our timetable or our path - it is learning to walk in step with Him.

At the end of the passage Job reveals the best thing we can do.

My intercessor is my friend, as my eyes pour out tears to God;
on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.   Job. 16:21

The intercessor is the one who moves or passes between two people - who mediates.  A good friend takes us to Jesus when we can't get there ourselves.  A good friend cuts a hole in a roof so that you can get close to Jesus.  Praise God if you have friends who will stop at nothing to help you see Jesus (even if you end up in a sycamore tree).  He can forgive sin and heal every hurt.

We live on the other side of the cross so we have this comfort - Jesus is interceding for us.  Beyond that, we are promised that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  Romans 8:26 

If you are at the wordless groaning stage - know that you are not alone.  Remember, one of the names for the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. 

If we truly want to comfort others, let us give them the strength to face whatever is up ahead.  Remembering their comfortable life or trying to return there too quickly (or ever) will do nothing to help them in their current place of pain. Let us lean into intercession, trusting that bringing our friends to Jesus will bring them the comfort they need to walk the road ahead.  Pray for them and mean it!