Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suffering and Comfort

So I know I haven't written anything in ages, much to your great disappointment I'm sure. :)  But today is the day you've been waiting for! 
I am currently reading the New Testament backwards.  Don't ask me why, I just am.  Today began 2 Corinthians... 1:3-11

The God of All Comfort

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

I just want to share with you some thoughts from this passage.  Nothing earth-shatteringly profound, but reminders that someone may need to hear today.
1.  Christ suffered.  I made a list of everything I could think of that we see Christ suffer in the Gospels: temptation, discomfort (hunger, heat, cold, fatigue, etc.) rejection, homesickness (for heaven!), betrayal, humiliation, being misunderstood, homelessness, personal attacks, death threats, etc.  And of course, the ultimate suffering of crucifixion and death.  This is obviously not an exhaustive list, and I'm sure you could add your own ideas.
2. We suffer.  Paul writes that Christ's sufferings flow over into our lives.  Don't we experience many of these things as well??  Certainly some more than others, and it seems, some people suffer more than other people too.  But now comes the good part!!!
3. Christ comforts us in our sufferings!!!  In fact, verse 5 says that our comfort "overflows."  Not just a little bandaid, or slight relief.  But overflowing comfort.  Notice that nowhere does it promise that our suffering ends, only that we will be comforted by Christ himself in our suffering.  Hallelujah!
4. We must use that comfort to comfort others.
5.  Our sufferings must produce a dependence on God, who alone is able to deliver us from death should he so choose.  Take another look at verses 8 and 9.  First, let me just say that this verse right here proves that the statement 'God never gives you more than you can handle.' is a pack of lies.  You might have heard me say this before, if you've ever said that statement in my presence. If we could handle life on our own, we would have no need of God!  So yes, folks, sorry to disappoint you, but sometimes you will experience more than your "ability to endure."  But there is good news too!  Being in that place of overwhelming ___________________ (you fill in the blank) leads you to depend solely on God, who can DO ALL THINGS.  Amen and amen!
6. God will be glorified and praised.  When we put our hope and trust in the Lord, He will do what He has promised, thus bringing glory to Himself and to Jesus Christ, and many people will praise Him for his good works and faithfulness. 

If this is you today, if you find yourself in the midst of suffering, whether great or small, take comfort in Christ, and in God's Word to you.  He loves you more than you can imagine and is doing everything He can to draw you to Himself.  Trust Him, believe Him.  He will not disappoint you.

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