Life hurts sometimes. We all face times of loss, disappointment, hardship, discouragement and doubt. Where do you turn for comfort?
Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. — 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Take a look at how Paul describes his situation in his letter to the Corinthians:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. —2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Can you relate to any of these? Burdened beyond your strength? Despair?
If you read on, Paul gives us a proper perspective to adopt in the midst of being burdened and in times hardship:
But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. — 2 Corinthians 1:9-10
We have hope! As painful or uncomfortable as these situations may be they serve to teach us to rely on God and run to Him as our Comforter. We read in these verses that God delivered, will deliver and will deliver us again! That’s good news!
Too often my idea of deliverance from something painful or difficult is different from what is promised in this verse. The word for deliver in the original language is rhyomai, which means to draw to one’s self, to rescue. I want the deliverance to be out of or the end to a circumstance. I just want the pain to go away! But God delivers by drawing me to Himself. He is my place of refuge, security, hope, peace and joy in the midst! Because…He IS hope. He IS peace. He IS joy. He IS steadfast and immovable. He IS the true source of these things in my life and they are not dependent upon my circumstances.
This week we have praised God as our burden-bearer. This passage also confirms the truth we need each other in the difficult times in our lives. Look once again at today’s Scripture:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. —2 Corinthians 1:3-4
He bears our burdens and is our Comforter and we in turn are called to come alongside others, bearing burdens and encouraging as they walk through times of hardship, heart ache and difficulty. In fact, the word comfort used in 2 Corinthians is paraklesis, which means a calling near, to encourage, console, comfort. We comfort as we come alongside to encourage through a listening ear, a word of Truth, a hug, a prayer, a helping hand, a shoulder to cry on and a heart that sympathizes instead of judges.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. —Galatians 6:2
We don’t have do to this in our own strength, because the God of All Comfort is our source of comfort. As He has comforted us, we can use our experience to comfort and encourage others.
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. —2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Message)
Spend some time reflecting on the verses from today and on the fact that God is our Comforter. How has God comforted you? How might you use your experience to extend comfort and love to another? Is there someone Christ is calling you encourage, come alongside and comfort today?
It’s my prayer that through this series we will, “from the rising of the sun to its setting”, focus on and praise our amazing God! We’ll take the Word for the day and think about it, ponder it, pray it and practice it. We’ll allow it to really SOAK into our hearts and lives. And then we’ll SHINE — boast, rave, praise and celebrate God’s presence in our lives, reflecting Jesus to those around us.
©2014 Susan Cady, susancady.com