Finding God’s Comfort in Unexpected Places

By Melissa McLaughlin

Finding God’s Comfort in Devastating Loss

His story caught my attention, and a lump caught in my throat. I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The pastor shared about a family vacation where his young son was hit by a car and died within minutes of the accident. He and his wife were stunned.

They expected their vacation to bring refreshment and family bonding. Instead, they faced inexplicable grief and heartbreaking family loss. They were crushed. It was difficult for them to process this devastating reality. Through tears and moans, the pastor cried out to the Lord for comfort.

And I will never forget what he said next.

As the pastor turned to Scripture, his eyes fell upon this verse.

Joshua 21:45 – Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. (ESV)

The Holy Spirit highlighted this verse to the pastor, and God’s peace, which passes all understanding, descended upon him. The healing balm of Almighty God flowed through this Bible verse to soothe his aching soul.

Yes, the pastor still wept, but the heavy cloak of despair began to lift in that moment.

Are God’s Promises for Me?

As I listened, I marked that verse in my Bible. Yet, I couldn’t understand how this little verse brought consolation to the pastor in his darkest hour.

Certainly, God had fulfilled His promises to Israel. But how had God fulfilled His promises to this pastor? That question lingered in my heart with no clear answer.

Finding God’s Comfort in His Word

Recently, I stumbled upon this verse again during my Bible reading. The words jumped off the page, and I remembered the pastor’s experience with fresh revelation.

Somehow, what I couldn’t see years ago became crystal clear today.

This tiny verse, Joshua 21:45, represents the culmination of God’s abundant promises.

God’s Promises from the Beginning

Beginning in Genesis, God promised Abraham countless descendants, from whom every nation of the earth would be blessed. Additionally, God promised land for His people (Genesis 12:1-2, Genesis 13:15, Genesis 15:18, Genesis 17:8, Genesis 22:17).

God chose to bring salvation and blessings through the Israelites, and He also promised them a certain area of land. As we ponder this, we must remember, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). God is the Creator. He sets the terms. Thankfully, He is a God of salvation for all who will believe.

Later in Exodus, God raised up Moses to lead His people to the promised land (Exodus 6:6-8). After God performed extraordinary miracles in Egypt, Pharoah set God’s people free, only to track them down to the Red Sea. Here God parted the waters, and His people walked forward on dry ground.

For the next forty years, God patiently guided His people through the wilderness despite rebellion, complaining, and doubt. Following Moses’ death, God appointed Joshua to the lead the Israelites.

Under Joshua’s leadership, the Israelites again witnessed God’s great miracles providing them victory over the enemies of God. Finally, they settled into the land God promised His people hundreds of years prior.

With that long view of the journey, suddenly the verse from Joshua, which meant so much to the pastor, carried a weight I had previously missed. Here are the surrounding verses.

Joshua 21:43-45 – 43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. 44 The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

Finding God’s Comfort in Unexpected Places

The amazing truth is just as God upheld His word and brought His people to the promised land long ago, so He will lead His followers to the eternal promised land today. In due time, all His plans will be accomplished. For God is the Eternal LORD who does not lie. If God spoke it, then it will be.

Therefore, we have hope. Even in deepest sorrow or soul-shattering anguish. Through faith in Jesus Christ, believers are assured our heavenly promised land awaits, won for us by our Savior. In Him every promise is “yes” and we say “amen” to the glory of God (2 Corinthians 1:20)!

Now I see how a brokenhearted pastor found comfort in this unexpected place. God fulfilled His promise to the pastor who lost his son, by sending His only Son to prepare the way to heaven. The spiritual truth of this verse rippled out from the pastor’s heart to mine. And I hope it has rippled on to you, as well.

Do you have a Scripture that has comforted you? Are you going through a difficult time? Ask God to show you a Scripture to anchor you in Christ. He will show you the way. Maybe in an unexpected place.

Other posts you may enjoy:

Why Did God Save Us?

God Provides a Door of Hope in the Valley of Trouble

Holding On to God’s Love Through the Pain

Unexpected Blessings

Resources:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Bible Hub

26 thoughts on “Finding God’s Comfort in Unexpected Places”

  1. Isaiah 41:10 and 2 Tim. 1:7 are promises that the Lord continually keeps for His children who see His hand in all things for His glory and our good and our joy in Him. Blessings..

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  2. I lost my beloved 27-year-old daughter in 2021. On the morning of her funeral, Matthew 5:4 is the verse that came up in my verse of the day notification. “Happy are the people who are sad now. God will come near to help them.“ I had set my translation on easy English, because I teach English as a second language.

    That night I opened my devotional, book, and the passage for the day was 1 Kings 17 where Elijah was sustained by the Brook Cherith.

    In my reading over the next few weeks, I came across an article about William Cowper’s poem/hymn, “God Works in a Mysterious Way.” A couple of days after reading it, I decided I needed to go back and find it and write it down so I could remember it. It’s so happens that on Sunday morning, a copy of the lyrics was in my church mailbox since our music director just happened to choose it for the hymn of the month.

    Another verse that jumped out at me around that time is 2 Samuel 22:29,
    “For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.”

    I have a little notebook full of things like that. I pull it out and read through it periodically. God is very faithful!

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    • Dear Christine, I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved daughter. That is heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing these Scriptures and hymn lyrics. God sends His comforting touch at just the right time, in just the right way. He sees us and longs to draw us near His heart. May His comforting love sustain you. Thank you again for your testimony. May God fill your little notebook with His words of comfort and love. God is very faithful! God bless you!

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  3. I find that I have many Scripture verses that bring and give comfort, and that they are situationally dependent. I agree that God finds us when we find ourselves in situations we want to think He would never find Himself in. Guess that’s the point though ma’am, He is with us always — even in the bad. God’s blessings ma’am.

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    • Thank you for reading and sharing your feedback, J.D. I appreciate your faith and kindness! You’re right, God is always with us. Even in the bad times. May we reach for Him minute by minute and be strengthened by His love. Blessings to you!

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  4. I love how God gives us Scripture to comfort and restore. There are numerous verses that I have found peace in reading and speaking. John 3:16 reminds me of God’s love. Have a blessed day!

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  5. How could I ever know peace if I never had chaos?
    How could I know deliverance if I was never in bondage?
    Your message came at just the right time for me, Dear Sis.
    Thank you
    Love Em

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    • Dear Em, your points are profound. As He walks with us through the deep valleys, we experience His steadfast love and comfort in ways we could never otherwise know. May God bless you and hold you close to His heart. Now and always. Love Melissa

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  6. Jesus never fails!
    His promises are true. He is in control and works all things together for our good.
    We need to stress less and trust more.
    (And that’s my reminder to myself.)

    Thank you for this beautiful message, Melissa.

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    • Amen Mary Anne! Jesus never fails! I need that reminder for myself, as well. As we remember His faithfulness through the ages, we know He IS faithful to the end. And as Christians, for us the best is yet to come! May we hold onto these truths and let Christ’s light shine through us. God bless you and your family, Mary Anne. I’m keeping you all in prayer.

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  7. I really think Lord is speaking to me in a special way. Just couple of hours to one hour ago, there was an online prayer meeting for the Swedish Core Bible. The person leading the meeting mentioned Psalm 103 and read the five first verses. Just when she mentioned the Psalm number I came to think of that was one of the Bible passages in the birthday card my former foster parents gave me. It is really amazing and really think the Lord is speaking to me through that Bible passages. Lord is truly amazing.

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    • Fredrik, I agree, the Lord is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing your recent experience of the Lord speaking to you through Scriptures. Psalm 103 is one of my favorites. How meaningful to have a special memory of your former foster parents come to mind as the prayer leader read the opening verses from Psalm 103. What a wonderful blessing!

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  8. Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
    Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.
    Psalms 42:11
    This verse gives me hope that God will refresh me with hope, even if I’m not experiencing it at that moment.

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    • Thank you for sharing your insights about this Scripture, Tom. I appreciate your point. There are times we don’t experience hope or peace in God, but yet we place our trust in Him. Yes, He will refresh us with His hope as we wait on Him. God bless you!

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  9. I find so much comfort in God’s words and in his promises. They bring me comfort especially during the hardest times in my life. Thanks for sharing these words of encouragement

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  10. I’m without words. Thank you for edifying me with spiritual knowledge of how God comforts us in unexpected places and situation.
    I’m a witness to GOD fulfilled promises.

    We say yes and Amen ✍️ to every of his word and promises.

    Brother Godswill Ibeka

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    • Brother Godswill Ibeka, thank you for the kind words. All glory to God. He is faithful and true. I’m also a witness to God’s fulfilled promises. Together with you, I say yes and amen in Christ Jesus.
      May God bless you and keep you, brother.

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  11. This is beautiful! The “heavy cloak of despair” that pastor felt can be a huge weight for us all, but God can help us carry it. We do not walk through the hard things of life alone.

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    • That’s such an important thing to remember, Jessica. Although God is outside of His creation, He did not stand back. He entered in through Christ. He entered into our suffering and carried our sin to the cross. He carries us through the dark valleys. He is faithful. Blessings to you!

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  12. Melissa, I can’t imagine the devastating loss this pastor and his wife experienced. How sad. I love how you brought the scripture Joshua 21:45 to life with the back story and surrounding verses. It does bring us such hope in the only true Hope-Giver and Promise-Keeper. God bless.

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    • Karen, it was heartbreaking to hear this pastor tell of the loss of his precious son. But his steadfast faith in the Lord was a testament to me. And the Scripture of comfort from God has stuck with me now for years. Only recently did the Holy Spirit help bring this full circle. I finally understand how this Scripture brought him peace and comfort. As you say, God is our only Hope-Giver and Promise-Keeper. May we lean on Him more and more. Blessings to you and your family!

      Reply

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