[reprinted from June 28, 2010]
Henry made the statement last night that in his observation of Bible study that people spend more time studying First Corinthians than they do Second Corinthians. That inspired me to start reading.
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, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. Our hope for you is steadfast, knowing that, since you are partakers of the sufferings, so also are you of the comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (WEB)
It is in those dark valleys and alleyways of life that I can wonder “Why is this happening to me?” and “Where is God’s plan in this situation?”. Anyone who has any relationship with God, even an antagonistic one, may find themselves raising their fist and sneering at God. I am here to testify to you today that God can take it! As I have said many times, God is the only One who can respond to all your questions. If any of the rest of us try to respond, we will be speaking from our own experience and my experience is not going to be exactly the same as yours or the next person.
God gives His comfort in any situation. He is so perfect to give comfort which fits that person in that situation. He provides to me what I need in order to continue to live and move on in my life. He does this first because He loves me. The second reason is so I may be so filled with His comfort – it leaks and flows out on people to whom God brings into my life. That could be a son or daughter. It could be someone I see in tears in the local store.
By the way, I must tell this story. A friend was in a store one day and as he turned into the paper goods aisle, he came upon a woman who was staring at bleach with tears streaming down her face. Is she having some reaction to the smell of bleach? No, her shoulders are shaking with sobs. Now most men do not do crying women well. It is not their comfort zone. And in a public place, it would be so easy to keep pushing his cart on by and keep on going! He did push by her but stopped at the Kleenex, grabbed a three-pack and opened a box and handed it to the woman with a light smile. He put the rest of the tissue in his cart and told her he would pay for it and tell the front manager that he had done so in case anyone tried to stop her. This man did not stop in the aisle and pray a profound prayer (although I suspect he did as he continued his shopping day!). He did not speak profound words to this woman who was obviously in great pain. He did offer the comfort of God in a tangible way which may never be forgotten by either her or God who sees everything!
It is God’s desire that I will come through my affliction because of His comfort and I will understand I have come through in order to help others to do the same. There are no short cuts to arriving at this knowledge. The closer I press in to God and wrestle through my situations, not letting go until God blesses me! – it may even seem the quicker I move through my present valley. With my eyes on Jesus, time becomes less about hours and days and more about what He is teaching me.
Please let your loving kindness be for my comfort, according to your word to your servant. Psalm 119:76 (WEB)
Psalm 119 is a lot about God’s commands, precepts, laws, ordinances, and such. But it’s not just about the discipline of that (although it is an essential part). It is about how we can trust God to be Who He is and He is faithful to Who He is. I can count on God to freely give His comfort to me, teaching me that as I freely receive His comfort so I will freely give His comfort.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters written by Simon & Garfunkel,sung by Brian McKnight & Josh Groban