I wore a tie to work this Monday. That is out of the ordinary for me. It was not so much a fashion statement as an act of remembrance and honor. The tie in question is a Cleveland Indians tie. It belonged to my father who was a lifelong Indians fan. He passed away a year ago Monday, on October 8, 2017.
I have long known this truth, and during the year since my dad’s death I have experienced it in a very personal way, God’s multiplication of blessings defies mathematics.
We see a tangible example of this truth in the miracle of the fish and loaves. Jesus took five loaves and two fish, gave thanks for them and then fed over 5,000 people. After everyone had eaten their fill there were 12 baskets of left overs. In the version of this story recounted in the Gospel of Mark, the disciples had come to Jesus suggesting that they send the people away so they could go into the surrounding villages and buy something to eat. But Jesus told them, “You give them something to eat.”
I think that element of human participation is key to how God’s math works, especially when it comes to intangible things like love, joy and comfort. When we seek to work in concert with God, the more we give, the more we have. It’s as if the supply of love or joy or comfort is limited only by our willingness to share it.
Paul writes about God as the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. God comforts us in all our affliction and we are then to comfort others, “who are in any affliction,” with that same comfort we have received from God.
That’s not to say that we don’t still grieve, we do. But that grief is tempered by hope and, in the case of a loved one who knew Jesus, by the knowledge that they are now in the presence of the living God. So we cherish those sweet memories and give thanks for the time we had together with loved ones now gone home. And we look forward to the day when, as Paul writes in encouragement to the Thessalonians when, “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
(NOTE: This past week during Midday Prayer Time I shared a number of scripture passages that deal with hope and comfort. You can see that list here.)