Monday, February 20, 2017

How Suffering Can Bring Comfort!

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Paul begins his second letter to the church at Corinth to let them know how much he appreciates them and their prayers for him.  Paul himself has suffered, but he has seen how God's comfort helps him to be a comfort to others.  Paul shares about his troubles in Asia, where he and the others despaired thinking that they would die. 

Paul knows that as these Corinthians continue to live out  their faith, they will face trials and temptations.  But these trials and temptations would push them toward God and help them to rely on him.  If our lives were always easy and carefree, we might be tempted to become self-sufficient.  But in the circumstances Paul faced, he had only one option, to look up.  Paul concludes, "This happened so that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead."  

Sometimes when we are under pressure, we want to rely more on ourselves. We may or may not trust God to meet our real needs.  I have found that when I am under pressure to turn over my concerns to God is the best antidote!  It is easy to complain when trials happen, after all we are human.  But if we can keep a mindset that what we are going through is pushing us to depend on God, we can get through anything.  Not many of us have faced death, but we have all faced situaitons that felt like death.  To the degree that we have turned to God in those situations our faith and confidence is strengthened.  

And Paul also shows the benefits of Christians praying for each other.  We have no idea how big a difference our prayers make for someone going through suffering.  But I believe they make quite a big difference.  It is good for us to pray for Christians not only in our family and church, but all over the world. 

Where are you suffering today that you need God's comfort?  Who can you pray for today who needs to know God is with them?  Maybe you could call them or send them a note to let them know you are praying  for them.  

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