August 26 - Comfort through Suffering

By Lillian Sparks

Today's Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3–4

Central Thought: God comforts us so that we may be able to comfort others.

    Philip Yancey, in his book Disappointment with God, presents three questions no one asks aloud: (1) Is God unfair? (2) Is God hidden? (3) Is God Silent? When going through various trials and difficulties in life, these questions often flood our minds. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck opens with a blunt three-word sentence: 'Life is difficult!” The journey of life is often strewn with roadblocks, detours, and construction zones which make the trip extremely difficult.

    In the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul addresses not only the Christians at Corinth but also 'all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is conscious that his words of instruction are significant for the whole body of believers. He describes the Son of God as Lord (His relationship to us), Jesus (His person), and Christ (His divinely prophesied and kingdom office). Then he uses the expression 'the Father of mercies,” which is a Hebrew way of saying 'the all-merciful Father.” By further adding 'the God of all comfort,” the apostle designates that Jesus is the source of encouragement and consolation to Christians under all circumstances.

    Throughout verses 3–11 Paul uses the word comfort to convey the double meaning of encouragement and consolation inherent in the Greek word para-kaleo, meaning literally 'to call alongside.” More than a pat on the back or a 'God bless you,” it is a deep-down compassion and sympathy.

    Paul implies that he is speaking from personal experience—that through every situation and tribulation he has been sustained and strengthened by 'the God of all comfort,” not only for the purpose of enduring the suffering, but also for the purpose of being blessed by the trial and then extending comfort and compassion to others in their times of need. Paul concludes that purpose is derived from painful experiences when the sufferer can reach out to comfort others, learn to trust only in God, and give thanks no matter how difficult the trial may be.

Devotional Prayer: Lord, help me to see that You have a purpose and a plan for all of life's experiences, even trials and tribulations. When life doesn't seem to make sense and my journey is interrupted by painful events, show me that You are still at work for my good and Your glory.

Today's Bible Reading: Job 20:1–22:30; 2 Corinthians 1:1–11; Psalm 40:11–17; Proverbs 22:2–4