No matter what lies before me, He is my comforter. This is the message Paul shares with the Corinthian church in our reading today. Neither Paul nor his audience has had an easy time of it but there is still a promise in the middle of “affliction.”
The church Paul is writing to was in the midst of dealing with issues Paul wrote to them about previously. They are also dealing with dividing factions that are refusing to take instructions. (I got this information from my bible helps, so if it is wrong, please let me know.) Things are not going easily in Corinth.
On the other side of the pen, Paul and his group have endured a LOT of “affliction.” We hear in Acts about many of the problems Paul encountered including being run out of towns, stoned, secreted away by the believers, and facing public accusations. This isn’t even counting the times he was put in prison or flogged. Some of these events had already transpired while others were still to come by the time he penned this letter.
Paul’s determination to continue preaching the gospel was not swayed because of the trouble he faced. I’m sure the Jews wondered at this. Everything they threw at him should have been enough to stop him. If he were operating under his own steam it would have been. But Paul’s secret to his drive was what he received in return for his suffering.
“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (verse 5). They were buoyed in their distress by the comfort provided by the Holy Spirit. They KNEW that nothing man could do to them would have any eternal impact. The Holy Spirit reached into their hearts and gave them peace. Not the world’s peace that is dependent on the activities around you but God’s all-encompassing peace. A knowing that all is secure. Not even the absence of fear but the power to face that fear head on with Jesus holding your hand.
I’ve heard an example of this that fits well for me. There is a man standing on the edge of a cliff with nowhere to go. Because he knows Jesus he KNOWS that God will either give him wings and bear him up on the wind or be there to greet him on the other side of life. I want to add another option to this. IF he survives the fall and God sees fit to keep him on this side of Heaven, He will walk with him the rest of his days, regardless of any pain or disability he received from the fall.
This last option is the one my husband deals with on a daily basis. When he was being rushed into surgery for a life threatening brain tumor, he told God that if he woke up in front of Him that was ok, and if not, that was ok too. He woke up with many issues to deal with and a lifetime of obstacles to overcome. Yes, he gets discouraged and he wonders why God hasn’t healed him. But the one thing he clings to more than anything else when faced with these doubts is the overwhelming peace he experienced when he brought this issue to God. He still feels that comfort and draws strength from it.
No matter what lies before me or what lies in my past, I can rest secure in the arms of my Savior. He was, is, and will be my comforter in ALL I walk through. Even if I don’t feel it, I have His word on it. Because HE lives I can face tomorrow!
Father God, thank You for watching over me every day. Thank You that I have Your promise of eternal life with You at the end of this journey. Thank You that Your Spirit walks with me every step of the way. I can trust You to “have my back.” I recognize that a lot of my “uncomfortable areas” are from my own making; my sin. But even there You still call out to me to bring me back. Thank You that You don’t abandon me at the first sign of trouble. Thank You for smoothing out some of the trouble I would face from my sins too. I have definitely been spared many well-earned consequences over my lifetime. Thank You for wrapping my husband in Your arms in his darkest hour. Thank You for doing the same for me in my times of trouble. You are SO faithful!