I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.…
I. MAN NEEDS A COMFORTER. I do not now speak of men in the bulk, but in units. Wars, pestilences, strikes, and social evils trouble men, but besides these, each man in himself has trouble which none but God can soothe. Perhaps friendless poverty is the sorest trouble of existence. Returning along the road from Warrington, I heard a groan which made my heart shudder. Stooping to the hedge, I saw a woman and a little child in great distress. She was from Liverpool; her husband had come to Manchester seeking for work and had written saying he had been taken ill, and that as he could send no money, she must trust in God. Without a penny in her pocket, love for her husband gave her strength to walk to Manchester with her child in her arms. She inquired at his lodgings, but found he had been taken to the hospital. She then by asking at every corner arrived at the Manchester workhouse, and found that her husband was dead, and his remains had been placed in the grave the day before. Footsore, hungry, and friendless, she was sent away, and pawned her shawl to keep from dying in the street. Then she dragged herself to the road near Irlam and lay down under a hedge to groan and to die. But in the cottage of a poor farm labourer she found help and sympathy which caused her to live. Did God not hear, and hearing, did He not provide comfort?
II. MEN VERY OFTEN SEEK ARTIFICIAL COMFORTERS. After the great deluge, men built the tower of Babel, hoping by that means to receive comfort in any similar calamity. And in these days men are building towers which they hope will save them from the deluge of trouble. Many people think that if they build up a tower of riches they will be happy. But the rich man is no happier than the poor one. I was once asked to visit a man who was said to be dying. Standing at his bedside and holding his hand in mine, I said, "Have you the joy of knowing that your sins are forgiven?" The man looked and replied, "Joy! joy! joy!" Taking his hand from mine he pushed it under the pillow and bringing out a bottle of brandy he held it with his trembling hand, saying, "This is my joy." Poor, miserable, drunkard! Most people before they become drunkards have had some sickness of mind or body preying upon them; but do not fly from your great trouble to drink.
III. OUR FATHER HAS PROVIDED A COMFORTER FOR EVERY MAN. If you seek in the history of the past, what man would you select to be your comforter? I ask the philosophers if they would ask for Socrates above all others? I ask the deists if they would ask for Thomas Paine or Voltaire? Or would you ask for John Bunyan, or for Wesley or Whitefield? If you knew none better you might. Take the worst man in the world, or an unbeliever, and ask him, "If you were to select out of all men one who should be your bosom friend until you die, upon whom would you fix?" If he told his heart's truth, he would reply, "Jesus."
1. Jesus our Comforter is with us. My mother died in giving me life, and, of course, I have not the slightest remembrance of her. The only relic I had was a little piece of her silk dress, and this I preserved as my dearest treasure. Tossed about, and yearning for a love which was not to be had, I used to sit alone for hours, and long for, and pray to my mother. You may call it an insane fancy, but to me it was real and powerful and comforting. And I owe the success of my boyhood to the consciousness of her beloved presence. In the same way, Jesus communes with us. Jesus in Spirit is with you.
2. He comforts —
(1) By showing that our Father loves us. Deep down in every human heart there is the instinct that God loves men. In great calamity men always cry to God.
(2) By pointing us to the Cross. Look to the Cross of Jesus, and see the remedy which shall in time save all the world.
(3) By inspiring us with hope. When a man is cast out of society, and swears in is despair, "I will now do all the evil I can and spite them," if a friend tap him on the shoulder, saying, "Brother, why despair of yourself? Come with me, and I will hold on to you until you are a better man," why, such language would be an inspiration! Jesus is the friend who does this to the despairing souls of men.
(4) When we are heavily burdened. Paul was burdened. He had a "thorn in the flesh." But did God take it away? No; but He gave him grace to bear it. So Jesus comforts us when we are burdened by giving us strength to bear it.
(5) He comforts us too by showing us God's purpose. He teaches us that all things work together for good.
Parallel VersesKJV: I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.