The Etymological Beauty Of Comfort

By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)

Today has been in many ways a very difficult day.

I awoke to the news that a dear friend from my childhood suffered a tragic death in her family.

Her mother, who has been fighting her battle to cancer for almost a year, succumbed and departed from this world on this 21st day of October, 2015. 

Since hearing the news, I have felt a powerful grief through my work. I have been blessed to go to several Bible studies, and to study with friends and loved ones about various aspects of the Lord’s Word and His plan for our daily walk.

While I have focused on these studies and on the precious souls I conversed with, I must admit that my mind has drifted back continually to my dear friend and her family.

The truly ironic thing is that I had learned-just yesterday-about something incredibly relevant about the meaning of a profound word from the Bible.

This lesson, I am convinced, was allowed to be learned by me in order to share it with my friends during their time of grief.

It revolves around one of the most beautiful promises of Scripture, couched in the introduction to the Lord’s famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

In this section of Scripture, Jesus introduces a powerful series of “Beatitudes” (attitudes that will bring great blessings) that (if we will learn and apply to our lives) will bring us a peace and calmness of spirit that the world cannot take from us (as shown by the definition of the word “blessed” which is used to introduce each of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10).

Today, I would like to share with you a gem that I have uncovered from the beauty of one of these profound statements of Jesus:

Matthew 5:4-Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

Each of the Beatitudes builds upon each other: as such, the “mourning” which takes place here has reference primarily to that sorrow which takes place when we come to realize our “spiritual destituteness” as Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:3.

When we begin to mourn as we realize our spiritual brokenness, we are promised that this will lead to great calmness and joy of spirit which the world cannot take away as we come to realize the “comfort” that God affords those thus afflicted.

Yet, there is another side to this “mourning” that is often overlooked: for it is sometimes the very circumstances of sorrow and suffering in this world which can lead us to realize our spiritual “destituteness” which The Lord emphasizes.

As such, there can be much redeeming value in the process of mourning.

When we are brought to realize the depths of our spiritual bankruptcy through whatever circumstances, and we are led to this godly type of “mourning” (for whatever reason), we are promised that we will find a great blessing in “comfort.”

Now, the word “comfort” is straightforward enough.

To “comfort” is to appease; to offer consolation in the midst of some trial.

But it is here that things become richly profound.

When I was in preaching school, I had a friend who was always interested in the origin and study of words.

He even carried around a book of etymology which traced the origins of English words back to their original roots. I used to call him “Etymology Boy,” not realizing that there was a profound wisdom in his actions.

As I continued in my schooling, and as I learned through my studies of the Word of God, properly understanding the words of the Bible is absolutely important.

Why?

Because God has spoken to us-not only in fleeting concept through the “language” of nature (cf. Psalm 19:1-5)-but in specific words.

As Paul wrote:

1 Corinthians 2:13-These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Indeed, the inspiration of the Bible is such that God directed the very WORDS that His Prophets and Apostles utilized (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). Hence, the Spirit of The Lord spoke by David, and His Word was on his tongue (2 Samuel 23;2). God put His very Word in the mouth of Jeremiah the Prophet (Jeremiah 1:9).

Realizing that God has spoken to us through words, the study and exegesis of those words becomes extremely important to the work of understanding God’s Word and properly communicating it in preaching and teaching.

One excellent work has noted:

“Preparing for genuine expository preaching involves far more than just engaging in legitimate word studies.1 Not only are the Bible’s words God-breathed (2 Tim. 3 : 1 6 ) , but so also are the relationships of those words to one another. Therefore, the preacher committed to handling the Word of Truth accurately (2 Tim. 2:15) must be willing to expend considerable effort studying syntactical (that is, pertaining to the interrelationships of words, phrases, clauses, etc.) as well as semantical (that is, pertaining to words and their contextual meanings) dimensions of the biblical text. This not only sounds like hard work, it is! However, it is an absolutely essential labor, since biblical theology informs us that the Holy Spirit uses those very words, phrases, clauses, etc. from His Word to produce and sustain life changes in people. Shortcuts are not an option for the preacher seriously committed to aligning his exegetical and homiletical methodology with the theology (especially his bibliology, hamartiology, and soteriology) he professes to uphold.2” (John MacArthur and the Master’s Seminary Faculty, Preaching: How To Preach Biblically, 2803-2817 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN; Nelson Reference & Electronic).

Within the original languages of the Bible, there are incredible depths to be plumbed which increase our understanding of the Message which God has communicated to mankind.

With that in mind, I want to share with you some important and powerful lessons from the word “comfort.”

As many know, the Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew and in the New Testament in Greek.

During the first century, the spoken language that Jesus and His Apostles usually spoke was known as Aramaic.

The Aramaic was a later form of Hebrew and was commonly used for speaking in first century Judaism.

Thus, please notice some of the meanings conveyed especially in the word “comfort:”

“Look at the following interpretations that arise from the Aramaic. There are several options because words, their roots, and their placement can yield levels of meaning as they apply to the body, mind, or spirit. The Aramaic word for mourn refers to being in a state of confusion or turmoil, as in wandering into an unfamiliar place or circumstance in life. It carries the sense of one who longs deeply for something to occur. The word for comforted means to be united inside, returned from wandering, and seeing what is longed for become a reality. Here you can see expanded possibilities coming from the root words of mourning and comforted that Douglas- Klotz proposes: Blessed are those in emotional turmoil; they shall be united inside by love. Healthy are those weak and overextended for their purpose; they shall feel their inner flow of strength return. Healed are those who weep for their frustrated desire; they shall see the face of fulfillment in a new form. Tuned to the Source are those feeling deeply confused by life; they shall be returned from their wandering.” (Paul W.. Meir, The Beatitudes: Finding New Meanings Within The Language Jesus Spoke, 327-334 (Kindle Edition); Benton, KY: Malcolm Creek Publishing)

The word for “comfort” often had reference to a person who was far from home, and who would find “comfort” as he approached his homeland.

As he approached his home, the “comfort” would increase util he finally arrived.

Isn’t that what happens with us in this world?

Several times, as I have traveled from my “home” in Kentucky, I have experienced this feeling upon my return.

Recently, my wife and I traveled to South Dakota and back. I still remember how I felt as each state became a a dimmer reflection of the rear-view mirror and I drew closer to Hazard.

When I finally arrived, there was a great feeling of “peace” (comfort) that I experienced.

There is no place like home!

When our loved ones are torn from us by death, we find ourselves yearning more and more for that “comfort” that will only be fully realized when at last we are reunited.

Each day that “comfort” grows, blossoming as we approach the land of fadeless day, until-finally-we find each other again on the shores of that blessed Home.

This is the consolation that we have in Christ-and ONLY in Him-that incredible promise of the Savior that the faithful will inherit those eternal mansions in Paradise where parting will never come again.

By the assurance of the Resurrection of Christ from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 17:30-31), our hearts YEARN for that day when we can cry out in triumph:

1 Corinthians 15:54-55-54   …”DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.” 55    “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING? O HADES, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?”

One Day, God’s people will shake the Heavens with this Psalm of triumph!

One Day, death and its’ power will be forever silenced, and we will have the joy of the eternal Morning to sing “Victory In Jesus” with the saved of the ages!

So now, we look forward to that Day when Christ will return, or when we will join Him in the vale.

We rest in the knowledge that the dead saints continue to witness us and to encourage us (Hebrews 12:1-2), cheering us on to finish the race and receive the crown (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

If you are not “in Christ,” beloved you need to become a Christian today.

Repent of your sins as a believer and be baptized in water for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:37-38).

If you are an unfaithful Christian, do not put Jesus off another day-let today be the day that you repent and pray and come back to Christ (1 John 1:7-9).

And so we continue on, sailing across the ocean of time. The chilling tide of death carries our loved ones on into the final harbor of eternity, those who are ready eagerly going ahead and watching the distant shores for our approach, sending the light across the wave.

Our time to cross that far-away but ever nearing channel will come. As each day passes, we feel strength and comfort returning and growing more and more, until at last we will find the fulness of joy and peace as we are together again, never more to part.

Thank You Jesus.

The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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