Comfort in difficult times

With many people still facing uncertainty or grief two years into the COVID pandemic, plus the devastation of floods and bushfires close to home and war overseas, we can all benefit from encouraging words, uplifting Scripture and a sense of God’s closeness. Nurturing our faith at home through regular devotions strengthens our relationship with Jesus. We pray that you will be blessed by the devotional materials here and in the Church@Home resources collection online at


Psalm 27:4b,5

This only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.


These reflections are adapted from a collection of devotions written for our LCANZ family and friends to help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus no matter what we face. You can find the full versions of these and others on the LCA website at 

Comfort his people by Sal Huckel

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God (Isaiah 40:1).

Read Isaiah 40:1–5,11,12.

The headline here is also the words of a very famous aria from Handel’s Messiah. Glorious! As I first read this passage, I was immediately drawn to find the music to listen along to. I strongly encourage you to do the same, with your Bible open. Find an image in the Scripture to meditate on.

What struck me as I listened was the comforting nature of the strings and harpsichord supporting the soloist. The overall effect, I realised, was perfect: Handel has written a perfectly comforting aria to highlight this wonderful Scripture.

We open this passage with an instruction to comfort God’s people. We find later in verse 11 a beautiful picture, pastoral in nature, of the Lord tending his flock like a shepherd, carrying the lambs in his arms close to his heart, gently leading those with young. Let’s think more about this instruction to comfort God’s people. Do we still have this gentle touch, or are we feeling worn and jaded? Do we have the patience and gentleness, fruits of the Spirit, in abundance to care for each other in the manner we see the Shepherd in verse 11 in our mind’s eye?

In these trying days, come back to this picture. Listen to this comforting music; lose yourself in this passage we are likely so familiar with that it can just become a memory verse we skip over as we read. Find a way to slow down – and take in the Lord’s words to you – not least this instruction. ‘Comfort my people.’ Who can you encourage and comfort? As our society becomes so preoccupied with our own individual health and freedoms, whom are we leaving behind? We might be surprised who needs our comfort. Comfort his people.

Lord, where we are too occupied with our own comfort to heed your words and comfort your people, please forgive us. May we remember you are the Good Shepherd who carries the lambs and gently leads those with young. May the fruit of the Spirit grow and flourish in our lives so that we can bring your comfort to hurting people in a hurting world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Praise the Lord and press on by Pastor Joshua Pfeiffer

I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Read Philippians 3:12–20.

‘Praise the Lord and press on!’ These are words I’ve heard several times from a much-loved Christian brother in the LCA circles. Some of you probably know of whom I speak. No matter the conversation or circumstances, he almost always leaves on this note: ‘Praise the Lord and press on!’ I find it a simple yet profound Christian encouragement. The temptation is always to look back and dwell on past hurts, sufferings, wrongs, failures and sins. But Christ would have us look forward in hope. He is the goal and prize of our Christian life, so we can confidently ‘praise the Lord and press on’.

This little motto is seemingly drawn from – and inspired by – the Apostle Paul’s words in the verse above. It’s worth remembering in that context that on his Christian journey, the Apostle Paul knew hardship, suffering and obstacles. You can read the full list of these experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:23–12:10. It even appears that as he wrote this very letter to the Philippian Christians, he was, in fact, imprisoned and perhaps literally in chains. Even in these circumstances, he maintains what could be called his ‘holy optimism’, saying not once but twice: I press on.

Paul was under no illusion that he could persevere and gain eternal life by his own strength. He says he can ‘press on to make it his own because Christ Jesus has made me his own’ (verse 12). The ‘goal’ and ‘prize’ he is striving toward is, in fact, a call of God in Christ Jesus. In other words, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is drawing him graciously to himself. Yet, in the mysterious interaction between the grace of the Almighty God and the redeemed will of the Christian believer, the Apostle Paul does ‘strain forward’ and ‘press on’.

You may be facing situations in your life that hold you back, weigh you down, and even tempt you to give up. Be encouraged: Christ Jesus has made you his own, so whatever you face, you can press on.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the prize of your heavenly call in Christ Jesus. When I am downhearted, encourage me by your Spirit to press on. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Give us, O God, the vision which can see your love in the world in spite of human failure. Give us the faith to trust your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness. Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts. And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.

– Frank Borman, Apollo 8, 1968, from



Deep peace of the shining star to you,
Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep joy of the leaping fire to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.

– An adaptation of an old Celtic Blessing. By Sister Susan, Nada Hermitage, Colorado, from

Nahum 1:7
The Lord is good … He cares for those who trust in him.

No more quid pro quo by Pastor Noel Due

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32).

Read Luke 6:27–38.

Jesus, as always, puts his finger directly on the spot. His teaching – especially in his parables – emphasises the difference between our normal ways of acting and relating to one another and God’s ways of acting and relating to us. Our default principle is quid pro quo: a favour for a favour. We’re so familiar with the ‘I’ll scratch your back; you scratch mine’ approach to life that we don’t begin to think of how wrong it is. But Jesus exposes the folly.

The real world (that is, in the kingdom of heaven) doesn’t operate by that principle at all. It’s not just that Jesus teaches us about the difference; his incarnation is the proof of it. It’s not just word – but deed. In Jesus, God comes to a hostile world with mercy in his hands and love in his heart. He loves those who hate him (us) and rescues those who despise him (us again).

There’s nothing quid pro quo about that – it is all sheer grace. Jesus’ words expose our tawdry, conditional ‘love’, and his presence reveals the true nature of God and his universe. His death and resurrection enact God’s saving love. We earn none of it. Hell is where quid pro quo rules; heaven is where that principle has been obliterated forever.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you do not treat us as we deserve. Thank you that your kingdom is so different from our wrong-headed attitudes and actions. Thank you for your kindness to us in Christ. Amen.

Cup full and overflowing by Norma Koehne

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he reveals his glory; and his disciples believed in him (John 2:11).

Read John 2:1–11.

What is revealed about Jesus in this his first miracle? First of all, it reveals him as truly human. Here, he is seen as a man enjoying the wedding of a friend or relative, at home with everyone. These were probably people he had known and worked with, played with and shared in their everyday life.

But he is also different, as his mother realises as she tells him that the greatest embarrassment has occurred, ‘They have no more wine’. What did she expect him to do – go to the corner shop?

Even though Jesus almost rebukes her, she tells the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’, and they follow what must have seemed rather bizarre instructions, filling 6 stone jars with water, 120 gallons in total. That would have taken some time. Then they take the water turned into wine to the master of ceremonies, and it turns out to be the best wine ever.

A miracle to help and save his friends and their family from shame. Jesus shows he is truly God, a saving God.

Most importantly, it is revealed that Jesus, as truly God, gives the best to us and in abundance. Christians are not cup-half-full or half-empty people but are blessed people whose cup is always full and overflowing (Psalm 23:5b). We are triply blessed. We have a loving Father who showers us with his love. We have Jesus, our brother, who gives us his hard-won forgiveness and clothes us with his righteousness. We have the Holy Spirit, our friend and guide, walking beside us every day to strengthen and protect us. Praise God for his abundant goodness!

Loving Saviour, my brother and Lord, thank you that through your saving death, I have life in all its fullness as you shower me with an abundance of blessings. Amen.

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