3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 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. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
8 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. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 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. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 1:3–12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
“The hard moments are not just for your growth in grace, but for your call to be a tool of that same grace in the life of another sufferer. In difficulty, God is softening your heart and sharpening your edges so that you may be ready to make the comfort of the invisible Father visible in the life of the weary pilgrim He has placed in your pathway. God intends for you to give away the comfort you’ve been given. The grace that has given you hope is meant to spill over into the hope for the person next to you.” Paul Tripp
There is so much that strikes my weary soul from this text.
First, what mercy and grace there is in affliction and suffering. What love and comfort you so freely lavish upon us as we endure the hardships of this life. To think that you care that deeply about us to pour upon us comfort, is a glorious truth upon which to meditate and wonder.
Second, is the truth that you permit the hardship in the first place IN ORDER THAT we might know and experience your comfort, thus coming to understand a side of you that we would not otherwise know. Your desire for us has NEVER been a trouble free life. It is for an abundant life, YES, but abundant does not mean trouble free. Sometimes my heart, our hearts, need to be reminded that your definitions are often vastly different than our own…but OH so much better!
Thirdly, I am struck by the fact that one of the reasons you permit suffering in our lives is so that we may pay that comfort forward to the next sufferer in line. How quick I am, we are sometimes at being critical and judgmental. It seems so natural in the flesh to criticize and condemn. And yet, your desire for us is one of compassion and mercy. You comfort us, so that we can comfort others and in so doing, being the visible comfort of the God of the universe in someone else’s life. The comfort you give to us is not MERELY for our own benefit, but for others as well.
Fourthly (And finally), what a comfort to my soul to know that I am not alone in the weariness and exhaustion that comes with the load that life brings. Not that I would desire or wish it upon anyone else, but to hear Paul…Paul…PAUL of all people express the despair of life weariness, it brings comfort to my own weary soul that hope exists. It reminds me, Abba, as it should all of us as your children, that YOUR STRENGTH is sufficient. Your comfort and grace is rich and full, and your power is our hope in the darkness and storms of life.
Abba, today, may we as your church simply cling to you. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstance, whatever the burdens we bear, whatever despair that clings to us like superglue, may we renew our hope in the God of the universe who has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake use and whose comfort comes through the hands of Your body, the church. May we rest in you today taking comfort when needed and paying it forward when you bring the next sufferer along into our lives.
May we be living examples of your love and compassion today.
We love you.