Knowing God through Sufferings. 2Cor 1: 3, 9.
Knowing the LORD intimately and experientially has always been the passion of Paul ever since he got converted. Even after so many years in Christian life and ministry he says, “I may know Him...” cf. Act 9: 5; Phil 3:10.
In 2Cori 1: 3 – 11 Apostle Paul narrates the troubles he had to face and the good things it has brought in his life. He does not want the readers to be ignorant of the intensity of the difficulties he faced in Asia. Using various words like, ‘tribulation’, ‘trouble’, ‘suffering’, ‘suffer’, and ‘pressed’, he makes sure that the readers get a clear picture of what he had to go through. The original Greek terms refer to various aspects of those painful experiences he had. It was like being crushed much pressure from various sides. He was so burdened by its weight that he found it very hard to bear. It also involved physical as well as mental agony. We can find such references to his distress in chapters 4, 6, 11 & 12 of the same book
One thing is very clear that he did suffer a lot, even feared for his life. Nevertheless in this passage he declares that it was good for him. Among the many benefits of trials Paul found, one outstanding fact is that he could understand God in a very special manner. Three things he mentions particularly.
1. God is the Father of mercies. V. 3.
He is the original source of mercy. ‘Mercies’ may refer to God’s compassion in any form or facet. In whatever state we look for mercy, it’s available with the Lord. We know, the law showed no mercy to the erring ones. Any violation was strictly dealt with. The man-made religious system also shows no kindness to its followers. Any offence is strictly punished and in fact, these centres flourish on the penalty paid by the devotees!
But our God is the Father of mercies what ever may be the occasion. He is full of compassion and great is His mercy to those who fear Him. Psa 86:15; 103: 11. Of course He does punish sin and causes grief to the rebellious, yet he is more than willing to forgive and save the repentant. Jeremiah puts it poignantly, “Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not …… though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” Lam 3: 22 – 33.
Since, abundant supply of mercy is available with the Lord, what shall we do? We only need to fall prostrate before Him pleading for His kindness and stay close to Him. That’s what the saints always did. Cf. 2Sam 24:14; Ezr 9: 13. Heb 4:16; 1Jn 1:9
2. He is God of all comfort. V. 3.
Our God is the supplier of all comfort. Notice the term ‘all’, it may refer to the abundance of ‘comfort’ available with the Lord. Or it may also refer to the variety of occasions when we need comfort. Whatever may be the case, either we need so much comfort, or so complicated is our state that we need the helping hand of God alone for various issues. All comfort is with our Lord. It is His pleasure to comfort the downcast. Cf. 7: 6.
There are certain people who find pleasure in the pain of others. They feel happy when others suffer! So they may even create such an atmosphere that people suffer and seeing that they may rejoice! How interestingly they report the painful stories of others! Such is not the case with our Lord. He is grieved, when His people suffer. He comforts us in all our tribulations. V. 4. Even in the pain of the wicked he finds no pleasure. Ezk 18:23
True, God will be angry with His people because of their rebellion, yet at the right time He comforts them. He is very much aware of the degree of chastisement needed for His erring children. In Isaiah 66: 13 the Lord says as a mother comforts, He comforts Jerusalem. Cf. Isa 12:1; 40:1; 51: 3, 12. We are well aware; no one else can take the place of our mother. Similarly no can comfort us like our God.
It is futile to look for any word of consolation or encouragement from our fellow- being. Even the close friends and relatives may fail to bring any relief to our distress. Our Lord is more than enough, for He is the fountain of all comfort.
Consider the ministry of our Lord while He was on the earth. He did rebuke the hypocrites and condemned the corrupt life of Jews, yet He always comforted the fallen and the needy. The sick and sorrowful found solace in His words and deeds. Matt 9:22; Lk 7:13. To the troubled disciples He says, “Let not your heart be troubled.” “I will not leave you comfortless.” Cf. Jn 14: 1, 18. In fact the Holy Spirit is called the ‘comforter’. The Greek term refers to some one called alongside to help. Same word is used for Christ in 1Jn 2:1.cf. Jn 14: 26; 16: 31. Finally, the word of God comforts us. Cf. 1Thess 4: 17.
See how privileged we are. We have the triune God comforting us through the scripture. He does not want us to be compressed through various afflictions. It is God’s plan that we may be strengthened to continue joyfully. Further, Paul also wants us to remember that God comforts us that we may comfort others who also go through similar trials. V. 4 cf. 1Cori 14:31; 1The 5: 11, 14.
3. God raises the dead. V. 9.
He is God of impossibilities. The third thing about God that Paul could learn as he went through various trials is that nothing is too hard for Him. The one who created everything out of nothing and brings back life to the dead can do wonders for Paul. This truth made Paul to face any tribulation courageously. He trusted in the Lord absolutely saying, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us...” v. 10.
Beloved, notice the wonderful way God uses manifold troubles for the benefit of His people. Not only Paul any other saint in Christ can experience it. We only need to see our life in the divine perspective. See God’s plan and purposes in all that we face and be submissive to His will. As Paul writes elsewhere, everything works together for our good. The uncomfortable circumstances we are in, the difficult people around us, the unhealthy physical condition we have and other numerous uncertain experiences we face are all allowed by our Good Master who wants to mould us better and use us for His glory.
Definitely such and outlook will bring us close to the Lord and make us fruitful as well. Let us not allow any incident in life, however troublesome and hard it may be, to rob our joy in the Lord. Let each occasion of trials be another stepping stone in our pursuit of knowing the Lord closer and closer.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”
God’s Care for His People
As a mother - comforts. Isa 66: 13
As a father - pities. Psa 103 : 13
As a shepherd – seeks. Ezk 34:12
As a hen – gathers. Matt 23: 37
As an eagle – flutters. Deut 32:11
As a bridegroom – rejoices. Isa 62: 5.
A Leper to win Lepers!
Story of Father Joseph Damien proves the truth that our sufferings actually make us more fruitful for the Lord. In 1873 he went from Belgium to Hawaii Islands to work among the lepers. Their poor response made him to think of returning from the mission field after serving them for around 12 years. But by the time he was about to leave, he found that he was also affected by leprosy.
As the news of Father Damien contracting leprosy spread, many from the leper colony came to meet him. They could very well understand the pain and agony Father was going through. Next Sunday morning hundreds of them attended the worship service and his ministry became very much successful from then on.
The reasons are two fold, not only they understood him, he too could understand and identify with with them, because of the same sufferings he was going through.
Matters for prayer:1 -
Miss. Pearl Jacob, Toronto
Earnest prayers of the saints are requested for Miss. Pearl Jacob 17 years, in Canada, who was diagnosed with blood cancer and undergoing treatment at Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto. She completed her chemotherapy and much improvement is found, but suffering from its side effects.
The family was in a shock as they just recently migrated to Canada from India; even before they could settle down they had to face this hardship. The Lord graciously heard the prayers of the Lord’s people world wide and gave her much recovery from cancer but treatment is going on for various other complications like fungal infection to various organs. Continue to uphold her and family in your prayers.
Matters for prayer:2 -
Eldership Seminar, Mumbai
Concerned evangelists and elders of the local assemblies in Mumbai have been conducting eldership seminar for around a year now. They discuss various topics connected to local church leadership and all the participants are encouraged to study for themselves and actively contribute for mutual edification.
This is apart from the evangelistic out reach work conducted every week in different parts of Mumbai by these Lords servants. The next eldership seminar will take place at Malvani, Malad West on Monday, 28th October 2013. Prayers are valued.
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God our comforter
“God never gives strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour,
but only for the strain of the minute.”
_____________________ Oswald Chambers
“A trifle consoles us because a trifle upsets us.”
_________ Blaise Pascal
”The blessed Lord condensed it all into one single message of eternal comfort spoken to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, It is I, be not afraid.”
_________ A. B. Simpson