Monday, March 28, 2011
affliction's great purpose
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God is in our affliction. He meets us in our trials and difficulties with a sweet comfort found only in Him. He does this because it is what He is. He is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. Ultimately we find purpose and comfort in our difficulties because God has always planned to be there with us in those times. And it is those experiences that cause us to lean on God like never before.
God comforts us in "all our affliction" according to Paul in this passage. I take that to mean what it says. There is no difficulty that can arise in our lives that is absent of God's ability to comfort. He is the God of ALL comfort who comforts us in ALL our affliction. No one can ever say that God does not care.
There is a means in which God uses us to comfort in this way. In fact, that is one purpose for affliction in our own lives. It gives us a place of identity with other sufferers, it gives us a place of ministry to hurting people, and it gives us a place to draw from the experience of comfort. We are told that one purpose of trial is so that we may be able to comfort those in any affliction with the same comfort with which God comforted us. We pass God's care along through our experience of pain and difficulty. We find a measure of peace and we share it with others in their pain.
This is why a robust theology of suffering makes sense to keep alive among Christians. The world around us longs to just make it all go away. We throw a party to forget. But that is not God's way. He longs for us to go through the pain and emerge stronger, better, and more humble... with a servant's heart that is ready to help other sufferers along the way. He equips us for ministry by being with us through our pains. And then He asks us to be available so that He can be with us to reach others in similar difficulty. We become the comfort God longs to give. It is a beautiful purpose, and we deprive ourselves of a chance to see God at work when we deliberately short circuit trials, losses, pains, and afflictions with our worldly sense of distancing ourselves from the suffering person. Jesus entered our world of suffering. And He knew our wants and needs. And He suffered greatly for us. He longs to share His peace with suffering people THROUGH us!
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13