Consolation in Grief

The consolations of God - Fifteenth in a series

Matthew 14 comforts us by reporting how Jesus consoled himself, his disciples and his followers when John the Baptist was beheaded.

Herod had jailed John because John said to him about Herodias, his brother's wife, "It is not lawful for thee to have her." (Mat 14: 4) It would appear that John was concerned for Herod's eternal soul.

Herod did not put John to death at first because he feared the multitude who counted him as a prophet. (Mat 14:5) However, after ogling Herodias's daughter as she danced, enamored, he swore on an oath to give her whatever she asked. Her mother told her to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a charger, that is, a platter. This was done.

Jews had a somber understanding of how the body of a good man ought to be handled upon his death. This wonderful man had a severed head that was perhaps disposed of with the banquet garbage. But Jesus' disciples took his body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.

When Jesus heard [of it], he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard [thereof], they followed him on foot out of the cities. (Mat 14:13)

Did they think they might comfort him? All were deeply grieved and distressed about this terrible end to the life of their special prophet. John was also Jesus' cousin. He had led the people to the Lord. It was a time of heartache and no doubt, confusion and fear as it foretold of things to come.

Jesus had desired to be alone yet he was followed by his adherents, so his first need was to comfort them. He healed their sick. (Mat 14:14) Then he fed 5,000 men and their women and children miraculously with five loaves and two fish. Thus, his presence, power and love upheld them at their time of deep need. The twelve were specially comforted when exactly 12 baskets with the remains of the feast were collected.

Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And …he went up into a mountain apart to pray (Mat 14:22, 23). This is our example for how to seek consolation when we witness or hear of devastating events: First, help the weaker brothers; then seek God in private.

A further consolation was provided. Since the disciples' ship was now in the midst of the sea, Jesus chose to join them by walking on the waters. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. (Mat 14:26-27)

Though Peter sought to walk to him, he was sinking down, but Jesus did not say he could not do the same: "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (vs 31b)

The disciples understood then that God was still in control and were amazed that perhaps in time, they, too, may walk on water! The unspeakable tragedy that had torn their hearts was soothed. As Jesus and Peter came on board, the wind ceased and all worshiped the Lord, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Mat 14:32,33) Then they landed and Jesus continued to heal all who came to him.

It's consoling to know that Jesus understands when we need special comfort and he will not disappoint.

Compensations are consoling

The consolations of God - Fourteenth in a series

In the beginning God was the only king, priest and prophet and he was the only judge. He made man to bring him into these roles and ultimately to make men a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6 , 1 Peter 2:9) and we will judge the angels (1 Cor 6:3). We need to learn God's ideas on justice and for this post we will only look at his righteous acts of compensation.

As Judge over all, God compensates his children and many others under the sun when he sees that they have not been fairly treated. He ensures they are compensated by justice and by gifts that make up for their deprivation. His compensations are wonderful consolations.

When Eve gave birth to Seth, he was named "Substitute" because "God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel; for Cain slew him." (Gen 4:25) Seth was her recompense because he would have a heart for the Lord just like Abel's, whose sacrifice showed he honored and loved God.

Sarah was so sure that God would compensate her husband for his lack of progeny that she gave him her maidservant, Hagar, to bear in her place (Gen 16:1-3). Her long wait for a child of her own was compensated by a miraculous birth and a lenient ruling that the first son would be sent away. God understands our frame, and he also compensated Hagar and Ishmael by promises and miraculous and great provisions.

Tamar, who was deprived of progeny by her husband's death and then by her father-in-law's empty promises, was not upbraided for her deceitful manipulation of Judah but rather rewarded by the birth of twins, one who became an ancestor of Christ. (Mat 1:3) This story seems to indicate that women have a rightful expectation of children. If this expectation is disappointed, God will compensate in some way; of course, we should not produce or seize upon our own compensation, but wait on the Lord.

Leah was given children since she was unloved by her husband. Esau seems to have been recompensed for the loss of his blessing by wealth (Gen 33:9). Joseph was made vice ruler of Egypt to make up for all his sufferings.

And, to echo the words of the "Faith" chapter, "And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of…" (Heb 11:32) the many examples of God's compensations that prove he is a God of justice and love. His very character is a great consolation.

Consoled by Praise

The consolations of God - Thirteenth in a series

When Leah gave birth to her fourth son, she was thankful and named him Praised, or Judah. (Gen 29:35) Thus, the branch that grew from Jesse, The Lord, (Isa 11:1), was prophesied in his name as a Word of Praise. Israel's consolation (Luk 2:25) is the perfect Word.

Perhaps when we feel in need of being consoled, praising God does not occur to us. We want him to stoop to our need as he characteristically does. (Phil 2:6-8) Yet, praise is a great consolation: It fills us with truth, we are uplifted and our hearts are settled. So, at those times when we feel a deep need for God's succoring, seeking it through praise is wise.

First, that is the way of obedience. Paul reminds us to think on what is praiseworthy. (Phil 4:8) In Hebrews, we are encouraged to praise continually. (Heb 13:15)

Next, we know that disappointments and trials are temporary: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God. (Ps 43:5) Let's not "take up housekeeping" in the valley.

Also, it is a beautiful thing to do: Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: [for] praise is comely for the upright. (Ps 33:1) Comely means beautiful.

And, it's good and pleasant to praise God. We then feel better. (Ps 135:3)

God comes to our rescue as we praise: Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God. (Ps 50:23)

We know we can trust that his works are wonderful (Ps 107:8, 15, 21, 31) and all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. (Rom 8:28)

If he answers before we call (Isa 65:24), why should we not praise before we groan?

Why let rocks take our place? "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Luke 19:37-40)

Jesus was sent… to give us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness so that we may be known as God's own, to glorify him. (Isa 61:1-3)

Praise the Lord!

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

Hochosterwitz 01052004 04

Search