Comforting the Afflicted and Afflicting the Comfortable

Maybe you’ve heard the saying “God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable,” but I bet you didn’t know that this expression was originally coined in 1902 to describe the important role that newspapers play in society! It wasn’t until 1987 that someone applied this catchy expression to the work of God and the work of the church. Before then the expression was in regular use, but it was only used by journalists to describe the “watchdog” role that they felt newspapers were obligated to have. To journalists, the “afflicted” were the victims of crime or corruption in the big city. The “comfortable” were the fat cats in business and politics who were dabbling in crime and corruption behind the scenes. The journalists saw their two-pronged role in the media as both comforting the victims of corruption and also calling the sleazy fat cats to account for their crimes.

Nehemiah 8 we see God “comforting the afflicted.” In Chapter 9 the comforted are afflicted. Joy and sorrow are two sides of the very same coin. After a thrilling and joy filled encounter with God in chapter 8 which caused the people of God to break forth in celebration, the same believers now come face to face with their sin in chapter 9.

Nehemiah 9 is the longest recorded prayer in the bible. It is a time of sober self-judgment. It is a time when the people of God turn from their sin and then find his forgiveness to be restoring and healing. That same hope is available for us today in 2015. Our comfort has to be afflicted first (See a wonderful promise from our faithful God – 1 John 1:9).

See you Sunday,

Pastor Byron