I crave comfort. I like chicken and dumplings, biscuits and gravy, chocolate chip cookie dough, latte’s and smoothies, and my grandmother’s strawberry shortcake in the summertime. I like to feel like the energizer bunny with the ability to keep up with my rambunctious crew. I like to have harmonious relationships where everybody gets along and knows you by name. I like a good book on a not-too-hot kinda day, while sitting on the edge of the pool.
I like boat rides.
Yep, I like them all.
Oh, the sweetness of comfort…it just feels gooooood.
However, when I look at 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (please read along), I quickly discover that my interpretation of the source of comfort differs from God’s point of view. Suffering precedes comfort. Affliction before blessing. It sounds like God got it all wrong.
“who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Cor. 4-5
I must constantly remind myself that suffering is part of the blessing. In the midst of my difficulties, I draw near to God. If I never walked through hard times, there are parts and pieces of God that I would never experience and come to know first-hand. It is through affliction that I come to know Him more. He knows suffering better than I do, and He is holding out His hand asking me to come along.
He is the God of all comfort
There is a great promise here: God is the God of ALL comfort. His comfort is available right now. He doesn’t hold time-constraints or limitations on it. His warranty doesn’t run out in 5 years. He tells us we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings so that we can share abundantly in comfort too.
If I am brutally honest…I am thankful for the hardships in my life. Although I don’t want to repeat them, I can say that through them God has drawn me closer nigh. Here’s an excerpt from my recent journal:
I feel like I am in a water raft going down a muddy, uncharted, turbulent river. The course before me seems impossible with all of its bumps and turns. My heart longs to jump overboard; however, I know that the riverbank is too steep and rocky. I could never escape alive. I find myself struggling to keep going and instead, put up a fight. I’m not ready to receive comfort. I want to linger here a little while. Stew a bit. Ponder the situation. Try to fix it on my own. Maybe I’ll start a petition, or loiter in the restroom. Hold a picket sign. Cry a bit. I really don’t want to move on.
But as I glance over my shoulder, I see that Jesus is my guide. He is charting my course and holding me steady, ensuring that I don’t completely drown. He tells me to keep my eyes steadfast ahead. He’s got me covered before and behind. And so, I will keep on paddling. Keep going. He is always faithful. He promises to do it again and again!
“He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Cor. 1:10
Keep your eyes on Him. He will deliver you….and when He does, you will be able to help someone else along.