Monday, May 11, 2009

Comfort in Affliction

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3 CSB)

You should read the whole first paragraph of 2 Corinthians 1. In one short paragraph Paul mentioned the word “comfort” 9 times. It is difficult to know Paul’s motivation for writing this, though his objective is clear. He wanted to point the Corinthians to the truth of God, the truth that God comforts us in our afflictions. The church apparently needed that encouraging word, and based on the larger picture of what Paul wrote, he and his team had just experienced some overwhelming affliction, probably in Ephesus. It isn’t clear what the affliction was, but it was severe enough for Paul to write, “We even despaired of life.” (verse 8)

Affliction comes in many forms. Regardless of form, though, the impact is universally some degree of devastation. There will be pain, whether physical, emotional, social, or spiritual. We can try to “tough it out” until it passes. On occasion that may work, but affliction that goes to a level of devastation beyond our ability to deal with or resolve or endure leaves us feeling powerless, so that the only thing we can do is go to God.

God does not prevent affliction. He may prevent it at times, but not always. Paul could give clear testimony to that, just as many of us could. While we may not understand fully why God allows this to happen, what He wants us to know is that it is in the midst of affliction that, when we turn to God, we experience the comfort only He can bring.

Lord, We sometimes find it difficult t make sense of some of the afflictions we go through in life, but we trust Your purposes. And we look to You for mercy and comfort. Amen.