In Isaiah we read, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God" (40:1). And in later verses in this chapter there are these promises of God's comfort coming through the Christ: "The crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. ... He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom." Still later we read that the Christ will "open the blind eyes" and bring "them that sit in darkness out of the prison house" (42:7). Also, God will guide us continuously.
And what a beautiful word is "comfort"! "Comfort," according to a dictionary, "suggests relief afforded by imparting positive cheer, hope, or strength." Could one do better than reflect strength and hope and thus be identified with God, cheering, encouraging, and gladdening the hearts bowed down with grief and trouble?
As one gains spiritual understanding of God through Christian Science, he acknowledges the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God, divine Mind, expressed in His universe. He acknowledges God as ever-present Love. He acknowledges divine strength and goodness as ever-operative realities, not figments of wishful thinking or the imagination. With this understanding he can console and support the heart struggling to overcome the mesmerizing darkness of a mental prison house. He knows that Love is always unfolding the infinite perfection of Being, in which Life, Truth, and Love are perpetually and uninterruptedly revealed in the experience of each individual.
Understanding brings to those in need the assurance that our Father-Mother God is constantly imparting to them at all times that they are loved by Love, cherished by Love, maintained by Love; notwithstanding every suggestion to the contrary, they are, in a word, beloved.
Spiritual joy, certainty, and strength show that each individual idea is held whole and complete in the Father's perfect plan and that all are precious in the Father's sight, never condemned or in jeopardy.
All through the Bible we have examples of positive spiritual comfort, cheer, strength, and healing. Some of the prophets of the Old Testament looked forward expectantly to the coming of the Messiah. Our Leader says in Science and Health (p. 333): "Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea,—the reflection of God,—has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth. Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets caught glorious glimpses of the Messiah, or Christ, which baptized these seers in the divine nature, the essence of Love."
Through the Christ these men were enabled many times to prove that divinity could and would and did comfort humanity. Two outstanding examples are those of Elijah and Elisha: Elijah restored to life the son of the widow of Zarephath, and Elisha raised the Shunammite's child. They were comforting God's people.
Then as we go on through the Bible, we find in the New Testament the coming of Christ Jesus to comfort the people. Because he had been elevated in thought by pure spirituality, he would not temporize with evil, and he recognized as real only the perfection of man, distinctly expressed and indestructible. The divinity of the Christ, which Jesus expressed, thus comforted humanity. The Master healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, cast out evil spirits, raised the dead. And furthermore he promised (John 14:16), "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever."
As followers of Christ Jesus, we must also comfort the people. Serving with unselfed love, we give evidence of the Comforter in action. Mrs. Eddy tells us in "Miscellaneous Writings" (pp. 195,196), "The 'I' will go to the Father when meekness, purity, and love, informed by divine Science, the Comforter, lead to the one God: then the ego is found not in matter but in Mind, for there is but one God, one Mind; and man will then claim no mind apart from God."
When those needing relief from their prison house come to him, should one not ask himself: "Does love, meekness, and purity, 'informed by divine Science, the Comforter,' permeate my consciousness? Am I ready and prepared to comfort the hungry heart?" He can be guided by a little verse quoted by Mrs. Eddy in "Retrospection and Introspection" which reads (p. 95):
Ask God to give thee skill
In comfort's art:
That thou may'st consecrated be
And set apart
Unto a life of sympathy.
For heavy is the weight of ill
In every heart;
And comforters are needed much
Of Christlike touch.
It was the nature of Christ Jesus to see through the mist of materiality and to recognize the real man; the result was healing. He beheld the perfect man right then and there. This eliminated the false sense, which presented the outcast, the lost, the demented, and reproved those possessed with narrow tolerance and racial hatreds.
What a comfort and what a Comforter!
Many times the writer has pondered the account of Jesus at Jacob's well, talking with the woman of Samaria, given in the fourth chapter of John. Jesus was on the way to Galilee and "being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well" alone. So this was a place of comfort, refreshment, and silent contemplation for him. Then "cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water." There, while asking her for a drink of water from the well, Jesus told her of the living water, the gift of God, eternal Life. As she listened to this man of God, she was lifted to a new level of thinking. For the first time she received a glimpse of redemption. Here was a prophet that knew her innermost being. This probably awakened in her a sense of remorse and opened for her the way to repentance, redemption, and regeneration.
And it is recorded that to the humble and evidently receptive woman of Samaria, the Master revealed for the first time that he was the Messiah, for whom they were waiting and who was to reveal all things. Then with winged feet and leaving her waterpot, she went forth to tell those of Samaria that this indeed was the Christ, and they came out to him. There he stayed for two days and preached, and many believed that he was the Christ, the Saviour of the world. So again, in the words of our Leader (Science and Health, p. 25), "The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus."
There are many who are wearied from a long, hard journey stumbling over rough and stony roads. There are many faithful workers who need comforting before going on their way to give forth the refreshing water of hope and pure spirituality. There are others who need to be lifted up and out of the many theories of life in matter to the positive assurance that they too will feel the divine grace, which is ever fresh in its quickening power and is truly the gift of God.
The obligation is ours to give through ever higher demonstration the living waters of true spirituality; to run on winged feet to tell others that they may be comforted. And may it be said of us (Isa. 52:7), "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace ... that publisheth salvation." May all to whom we bring it receive the living water and rejoice, "for the Lord hath comforted his people."