Daily Readings: Deuteronomy 19-20, 2 Corinthians 1
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
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. 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, 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.
2 Corinthians 1:3-11
There is so much power in these 9 verses.
When we read Paul’s encouraging words to the church at Corinth, who were clearly going through some hardships at the time, the first thing that pops out to me is how powerful our stories are for encouraging others. There are few things that can give someone more strength in their current battle than a brother or sister in Christ coming alongside them and saying, “I have walked this same path you are on.”
There is power in our story.
However, something struck me towards the end of the passage this morning in a different light.
For a lot of us it takes years or even decades to get to a point where we are able to come to terms with the challenges that have occurred in our lives. Some of these are things that happened to us, and some are self-inflicted challenges. Once we are willing to share these experiences with others, we have a huge opportunity to comfort and assist people facing the same life challenges. We can relate!
This is not what struck me this morning.
Towards the end Paul says, “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, 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 was not just speaking to them about the time he was imprisoned 10 years ago and telling them to hang in there because it eventually gets better. He wasn’t saying, “Listen, in a different life, I struggled with that too. I can relate!” Paul was saying that this is an ongoing battle. We are still facing the exact same challenges that you are facing today, and we will most likely continue to face them. We have full expectation that God will continue to be faithful and the fact that we are still in the midst of our struggle will be a testimony to God’s unfailing love and others can then see the manifestation of the power of their prayers as they lift us up in our battle!
This changes the game. I know for me personally, no matter what I am struggling with during any season life, it is always helpful to have people in my life that can relate and say, “I went through that also. Here is how God helped me deal with it.”
It is even more powerful when someone is able to say, “I am right there in that battle with you…still. Today. This is a fight I am currently fighting and God is going to continue to deliver us. On him we can set our hope, together.”
There is serious power in battle partners that you go to war with against an enemy who is cunning and knows exactly how to attack each and every one of us.
Just because your battle may be lessened from where it was at it’s peak, there is still serious power in your willingness to be open about it. You don’t have to still be stuck in, what seemed like, a bottomless pit of shame and self-defeat. Friends of yours that are still early on in their particular battle are able to take extreme comfort knowing that they are not alone.
We have all struggled with any number of things, anger, jealousy, alcoholism, pornography, gluttony, pride, drug addiction, adultery, lying, or coveting; and we are still tempted in some form or fashion every day. Being able to tell a brother or sister in Christ about your still present struggles instead of talking about them in an academic, past tense way, gives so much more comfort.
That doesn’t mean you have to be losing the battle to be of comfort to another. It just means that there is power in admitting a battle still rages. When people see us as perfect, having it all together, never struggling with anything, and having conquered all of our past demons; it sets a false standard that no one can live up to and creates hopelessness. None of us can achieve perfection, which is why Christ had to come in the first place.
What do you struggle with? It doesn’t mean that you need to have lost that fight recently. Maybe you have been abiding firmly in Christ, and when those temptations have come recently, you have reminded yourself of your true identity and allowed God to strengthen you. That is fantastic!
But it doesn’t mean the temptation isn’t still there.
Maybe you are still in the midst of a battle that you have been losing more times than not in recent weeks and months. God loves you like crazy exactly where you are. He is a God of comfort and a God of compassion. He wants to rescue you each and every day if you will allow him.
As Paul wrote today, God not only desires to rescue us, but he also wants to use our past, present, and future struggles to comfort and encourage others. He wants to show others, through our unending faith in God’s rescue, the hope that exists in him.
So share your story. Not just of the past and God’s powerful redemptive work, but also be open with the present battles you are fighting today.
Our God is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Let him use you, along with your troubles, to be a source of comfort to others this week!
Thought to ponder
What are my current struggles? Am I willing to lay them out there for others so that they can comfort me and so that I can be a source of encouragement for others who then realize they are not alone as well?