|January 25, 2015|
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our afflictions, 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. For as we share abundantly in Christ's suffering, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
We're all familiar with suffering and affliction. None of us can escape it. When we go to the store, we see people who appear to be struggling with all kinds of things. When we sit in the doctor's office, we rub shoulders with people who have received news that leaves them stunned. When we pick our children up from their activities, we chat with other parents who are questioning their ability to do right by the ones they love most.
Suffering and affliction are everywhere.
As Christians, we know that none of it is wasted. We know that all of it falls under the "all things" that God has promised to use for our good and His glory. We know that we're being made into the image of Christ. And so, we press on. Or, at least, we try.
We talk through it and pray through it and listen through it. We lend a hand when we can and accept help when it's offered to us. We do our best to hope in Him even when the situation leaves us wondering how we're ever going to muster the strength to get out of bed.
We know the truth and we beg Him to help us live like it.
Like so many other verses that we hold dear, we forget about something that's very important. We forget about what comes next, what comes after, what is tied directly to the very things we preach to ourselves on our darkest days. At least, I have.
As I face uncertainties and surround myself with reminders of God's truth and soveriegnty and the prayers of those who know what it is I'm up against and offer up prayers of my own for those who have let me into their suffering, I have completely missed the words that come next.
So, I'm here to share some news with you that you might need to hear as much as I did this morning.
We prepare for suffering and we do our best not to be undone by it, knowing that it is promised to us. But, do you know what else is promised to us?
Not just any comfort. Like the suffering, which is in God's hands and promised to accomplish His will in His people, this comfort is comfort that comes from Him and has a specific purpose.
We will be comforted by God. We ARE comforted by God. Right now, in the midst of whatever you're going through or whatever you're watching someone else go through, that thing in you that puts a smile on your face and a skip in your step and allows you to say, "You know, things are a mess, but somehow, I'm actually okay.", it's the character and presence and truth of God comforting you.
You might barely be able to say that you're okay or that things are going to work out for the ones you love, but the thing is, you can say it. You can always say it. And you will always be able to say it.
Because God is who He says He is and He does what He says He will do. He was with Christ and worked through Him and didn't let His suffering go on for a millisecond longer than it needed to to accomplish His glory and Christ's good. He was there comforting Him and that comfort is what got Christ through.
That same comfort is ours. Right now. Tomorrow. And forever more. He means for us to share in the suffering and the comfort and the hope together. With Christ and with one another.
After all, He is our God and we are His people.