The Bigger Picture

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.

We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (NLT)

I know I have read this passage many times but today I am seeing some solid truths and points I can meditate and stand on:

– God is the Father of mercy and all comfort.  It is not in my human nature to be merciful or comforting – it all comes from His Holy Spirit.

– the comfort that I receive from Him has a two-fold purpose: to comfort me and to be passed on to others who need comfort.

– the sufferings I am going through – Jesus has already passed that way.  Yes, every one that I can list, He has gone through something similar.  So, I can stand on the promise that the comfort will come, too.
– sometimes it’s hard to step back and see the bigger picture that my distresses can benefit others; can be a testimony and encourage their faith in the Lord.  I can honestly say that sometimes I didn’t even care if it would benefit others. I didn’t want to go through it and I didn’t want to see the ‘redeeming value’ of it!  That’s when my ‘pity party’ would reach its peak!!!  Excuse me – I’m going to meditate on this part for a while.  I have a feeling that there may be a connection to Paul’s other truth about being “content in all circumstances” [Philippians 4:11] ouch!

– Sharing my hardships with others is important. A burden shared is less of a burden!  And as Paul testified, it recognizes that when we are weak, God is strong.  I am also going to meditate on how often I rely on myself instead of God.  I know that God is not saying that I should lie around like a slug and wait for Him to do everything but I suspect that I am not where I am suppose to be on relying on Him vs. me!  Note: Paul states clearly that they were in such despair as they thought they would die.  God will allow me to reach the ‘end of my rope’ so that He gets all the glory/credit for pulling me up!

– Because of these hardships, hope is firmly planted through the testimony of the experience.

– Paul recognizes the part that the Prayer Partners played.  When going through the hardship, the power of prayer from the Body of Christ is extraordinary!  It is knowing that there is an Aaron and Hur on either side of me, holding up my arms when I grow weary! [Exodus 17:10-13]

– And the testimony continues as more people catch on to the power of God!  We know that He will not leave us nor forsake us. We know it!

– Never forget to give thanks in all things.  From hardship to resolution, give thanks!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                   1 Thessalonians 5:16-17 (NIV)

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