When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
(Psalm 94:19 ESV)
console [kuh n-sohl]: to alleviate or lessen the grief, sorrow, or disappointment of;
God's work of consoling is very unique. He typically does not remove the source of our pain and trouble. That remains because in the Lord's wisdom, the trial is necessary for a greater good. We will have trouble while in this world, that's for sure, and there will be no ultimate relief until the time Christ makes all things new.
However, this does not mean there is no comfort, empathy or relief for the cares of the heart. No, the text states that the Lord's consolations cheer my soul. So how does a loving Father do this?
I find the following in Scripture:
1. God's consolations are centered in the gospel and around Jesus Christ alone: After all, He is the one of whom Isaiah wrote: "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted" (Isaiah 53:3-4). All comfort or relief stem from having our sins forgiven and the hostility between us and God removed. There is no comfort for "lesser things" apart from the cross of Jesus Christ which heals our greatest need.
2. God's consolations will not work against His plan for our holiness: He will not take away what is troubling our hearts, but the Lord does reassure us of His love. He is treating us as sons (Heb. 12:7). Therefore we are to persevere and not become discouraged. This is not senseless pain. Our Father does know best and will not dessert us in our time of need. We will not see Him without holiness, so the Almighty blends discipline and pain with kindness and sympathy.
3. God's consolations find their ultimate fulfillment in the kingdom: The consolations provided here and now cheer the soul and help us to walk on. However, the completion of the comfort comes when God makes His dwelling with men and "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4). This is our sure hope and this adds to the encouragement we require now.