Before I dig into this there’s probably a few qualifiers I should say: first, please do listen to the sermon I’ve uploaded below by Mr. Keller, particularly if you’re going through a dark time it’s a lot better than anything I can say. Secondly, my experience of sorrow is a blip on the scale of human suffering and in writing this I feel like I’m grasping concepts I don’t fully understand. Finally, the comfort of Christ is reserved only for his people, if you are not a Christian then his comfort grants you nothing.
When sorrow, hardship, trails, grief, persecution and suffering come our way then our first refuge should be the comfort that is to be found in Christ. It is not our first instinct to do this. It is easy to search for comfort in other things: family, friends, escapism through drink, computer games, drugs, fantasy, relationships, keeping busy, anything that distracts from the pain. Most of these are perfectly valid and good things in part but they can’t comfort us on our profoundest level, the spiritual level, for that we need the love and comfort of Christ. It is often not an easy comfort to grasp for it allows us no illusions or delusions about our situation, it confronts us with the reality of this sinful world we live in and our sinful selves, it tells us that we should not be surprised by our sorrow for as Jesus promised: “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16v33). I used to think that if I did a good job of walking with God I would be spared hardship and sorrow; not true, Job lived blamelessly before God and suffered much, Jesus lived perfectly before God and suffered to the point of death. The comfort of Christ is not in denying sorrow yet nor is it wallowing in self pity or giving way to despair. As I said, it can be a hard comfort to grasp but it is the only comfort that will provide peace and solace for the troubled heart. The comfort of Christ is rich and can comfort the most weary and grief stricken soul.