Click here to listen to the sermon by Dr. Paul Little: 2 Corinthians 1: 1-7
The passage this week was short and all about comfort. In fact the word comfort is mentioned 10 times in five verses so that of course is what I am going to be writing about.
Before we talk about comfort lets talk about how people don’t like to feel uncomfortable. No of us enjoy going to a funeral or a hospital. Why? Well other than the obvious reasons we don’t like putting ourselves into an uncomfortable situation. We never know what to say, or better yet what NOT to say and we just end up feeling useless, uncomfortable and awkward because we can’t fix it or change it. But that is NOT comfort. Comfort is not fixing, rescuing, or changing anything.
We all suffer at one point or another in life but we all suffer differently. We all express our suffering differently. However one thing that does not change about suffering is that God promises to comfort us through it all. He doesn’t promise to fix it or change it but to walk us through it. Sadly many of us forget how great of a Comforter God can be and we allow other things in our lives to comfort us. This can often lead to an addiction. I used to like to use control everything in order to feel better during a time of suffering. The danger in having someone/something as your main source of comfort is that your comforter will instigate your choices. If control is something you have used as a comforter than you will be sure to do anything to get that control. This affects everyone around you and all your priorities. It reminds me of some verses in James 4 I recently blogged about.
4 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. ~ James 4
Dr. Paul Little talked about how as Christians we need to decide to be a conduit of God’s comfort. I bet most people don’t really know what conduit is. One of the definitions is “a channel for conveying water or other fluid”. When I thought about that in my own life and in this context of this subject I would say we can be a conduit for each others suffering with tears, that’s a fluid right? If we can’t cry with others when they are suffering than we are not stepping out of our comfort zone to really enter into their suffering. Sometimes crying with others is not always necessary but if we allow ourselves to go there than it doesn’t make the person suffering feel so dumb about their ‘water works’. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve hugged people that have cried with me and I’ve hugged people who just say it’s going to be ok. The people I was most comforted by where the ones who cried with me. This requires putting our pride aside. The point is not just about crying with that person but it’s about being real and honestly and truly entering into suffering with them. It’s not easy and sadly I don’t think we go around looking for opportunities to comfort others. We should be but too many of us are too comfortable and don’t want to be bothered to get uncomfortable and share in suffering. We may happen to be in the right place at the ‘wrong’ time and find ourselves searching for the words to say but just suffer with them, this is comforting.
Dr. Paul Little also said that comforting is also about embracing the path less traveled.
I am saying we need to get out of our selfish little comfort zones and suffer with someone else. Too often we expect to be invited to celebrate with our friends but would rather not answer the phone or go a visit when they are in the muck of the clay. I mean really how many people would go to your mother’s funeral verses your wedding? Those are the people you invite to your wedding if you want to keep the guest list small.
One day your turn to suffer will come and,
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. 2 Corinthians 1:4
Too often we don’t use the comfort that God has given us to comfort others. We don’t pass it on. Perhaps many don’t even know the comfort of God or what that looks like. I have been in situations where I’ve stood along side friends that had many Christian friends whom I expected would have joined them in their suffering but they were not there. Where were they? Don’t they realize how much suffering their friend is enduring? Perhaps, but it’s awkward and they don’t know what to say or maybe they don’t see the point because they can’t do anything. But it’s not about what we can do. Even in our own suffering often we can’t do anything. So how do we get comfort and give comfort?
For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
…we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 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. 11 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
Patiently endure it
Rely only on God through it
Place your confidence in God during it
Pray for each other always
This is why I called my CD ‘Still Moments’, my harp music brought me through many still moments with God where I just patiently endured and relied on Him. The music gave me some peace so I wanted to share it with others and that’s purely the reason why I recorded the CD.
So here’s a random thought to wrap up this blog post:
The Bible say’s we are all like sheep but today I am going to tell you how we are all like trees. Let’s pretend we are all a Canadian apple tree. Canadian apple trees patiently endure the cold tough winters only to share the abundance of their fruit in the spring. We rely on these apple trees to survive the winter and we are confident that they will because we’ve seen it and tasted it before. We pray that the frost doesn’t harm the buds because that’s what could prevent it from being able to produce fruit. So how are we enduring? After the tough cold winter/suffering has gone will we share our ‘fruit’ to help comfort others? Can others rely on us and place confidence in us on being there for them? Can they depend on us to pray that the frost/suffering won’t prevent them from bearing good fruit for Christ?
Photo Credit: In My View Photography
What kind of fruit would fall off your tree if someone bumped into you? How deep are your roots? Are you deeply rooted in God or will you blow over with the next storm that hits your orchard?
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. ~ Romans 5
in the clay,