Comfort . . . the word evokes each of us in our own way.
For some it is food, like chicken pot pie made from scratch just like Grandma used to make, and for others CHOCOLATE. An infant knows comfort when being held close to his mother, snuggling as they both fall into an afternoon snooze. For others, a relaxing bath and getting in bed with freshly washed sheets, and finally getting time to read the book that’s been on the shelf. Other things that comfort are a cup of tea with lavender honey or sitting on the porch with an ice cold glass of lemonade in the heat of summer. Both beverages are enhanced when sipping with loved ones.
Oh, comfort, something we all need in the craziness of our lives, and something that we read of in the Bible in many Scriptures.
There are four Hebrew root words for “comfort” and are similar in thought.
- H1082 בּלג bâlag baw-lag’
A primitive root; to break off or loose (in a favorable or unfavorable sense), that is, desist (from grief) or invade (with destruction): – comfort, (recover) strength(-en).
- H5162 נחם nâcham naw-kham’
A primitive root; properly to sigh, that is, breathe strongly; by implication to be sorry, that is, (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself): – comfort (self), ease [one’s self], repent (-er, -ing, self).
- H5582 סעד sâ‛ad saw-ad’
A primitive root; to support (mostly figuratively): – comfort, establish, hold up, refresh self, strengthen, be upholden.
- H7502 רפד râphad raw-fad’
A primitive root; to spread (a bed); by implication to refresh: – comfort, make [a bed], spread.
I’m feeling I could write a 3-inch book just on the Hebrew word “comfort”, but I’ll just add a few thoughts on “comfort” found in Isaiah 40. Isaiah is filled with future events that will happen during the Messianic era. I believe Isaiah’s words are the guidance we need to “comfort God’s People and Israel”. Many commentators believe that beginning with this Scripture, and the remaining 27 chapters of Isaiah, is a thematic study in itself.
Comfort (nacham) ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” Isaiah 40:1-5 KJV
For those of you who don’t know my story, it was Sept 1999 I made my first journey to Israel during Succoth (a/k/a Feast of Tabernacles). It was during the Jerusalem Parade, as I was passing out Kosher candy to the children, that my heart was filled with wanting to do “more” than give candy. A year later I once again traveled to Israel during Succoth, this time I took dozens of pairs of socks for men, children and women.
Socks? . . . Yes, socks, something I consider to be quite comforting, I guess perhaps one of my favorite Scriptures is also found in Isaiah 52. You know socks and feet go together 🙂 “How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news.” In addition I added something else to each pair of socks. Inside each pair was a US dollar bill where I highlighted “In God We Trust”. Over the next few years each journey I made to Israel I took “socks” along with other items of comfort, medical supplies and practical items. It’s so funny when I check in at the airport I’m always asked if I am “moving” to Israel.
In 2004, as I was preparing to go to Israel, I had a quiet thought in my heart. What I felt was that I needed to take teddy bears to Israel during Succoth. As I gathered 400 small beanie baby size teddy bears, I was so excited, what greater expression is a teddy bear to bring comfort. That year, my friend Karen joined me and enthusiastically we began a process of vacuum sealing the bears so we could fit as many as possible in our suitcases. We had no idea what we were going to do with all the bears as we traveled, it didn’t matter, we felt that our bear mission of taking comfort was important. We had so much fun and with all honesty it was so easy to bring the element of surprise and joy each time we took a bag of bears to the streets of Jerusalem, hospitals and when we went to Hebron. As the days progressed we began to feel a little sad that we were just about out of bears. Every journey since that time I have taken teddy bears, medical equipment, shoes and socks, toiletries as well as other items that are distributed to charitable organizations in the land. I have more stories than you have time.
In the fall of 2011 as I was downsizing and moving it was time to make a decision with a special collection of teddy bears that I had kept displayed in my home. Many of the bears were larger than the beanie baby size that I would normally take, some even were valuable to bear collectors. As I packed them I also felt this year I would concentrate on giving these special bears to older men and women while marching in the Jerusalem parade. Here’s a collage of some of the recipients of the bears during the 2011 march.
I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you what a blast I have doing this, what an incredible joy to bring smiles not only to the one who gets the teddy bear but as you can see in the pictures those who are nearby get a kick out of it also. Then, there is the emotional side of this ministry. It was that morning that Soldier Gilad Shallit was released with mixed emotions among Israelis. We all rejoiced that Gilad had been returned after his five long years of being a prisoner, but it was also that morning that hundreds of terrorists were released resulting in heartache in the hearts of those who would never see their loved ones whose lives had been lost during multiple terrorists attacks. Very, very emotional day.
This last picture has a story that I would like share. We were approaching the end of the parade and were on Agron Street. As one looks ahead you will see the Old City and to the left is Independence Park. As I reached into my bag and brought out my last bear this woman began to cry. This has happened to me before; it always grips my heart. I don’t know what to say or do but to smile, give out the bear and go on. This woman was hesitant to take the bear. As I placed the bear in her hands, I looked her directly in her eyes and said “Nacham, Nacham”. She grabbed the bear, and then she gave me one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve ever received. After a few moments of talking I took this picture as she waved goodbye.
While this was my last bear to give out during Succoth 2011 I am looking forward to another adventure during Succoth 2012. Perhaps you will join me in Jerusalem, Israel. There always has been a reason to bring comfort to Israel, this year I’m feeling even more so. I don’t have to tell you that daily the news is full of more threats and hate toward Israel. I’ll be posting information on my HereToTheNations.com web site how you can join me and “Comfort ye, Comfort ye MY people” THIS YEAR IN JERUSALEM. Together we will Prepare the Way of the Lord.
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