Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we ourselves are in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ let us share abundantly in comfort too. (II Corinthians 1:3-5)
God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. What an incredible truth this is. It does not take us long to understand that our lives on this earth will go through times of great pain and suffering. We live in a broken world because of the effects of sin. When Adam sinned the whole of the created order was affected. Even the creation itself groans awaiting the day when Jesus restores all things.
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjugated to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans 8:19-21)
The illustration is childbirth. The birth of a child demands pain on the mother’s part prior to the joyful fruit of the pain. We live in the time of pre-birth, the season prior to the joyful rebirth of the new creation.
I do not want to imply that the whole of our existence on this earth will be painful. However, because of the Fall we will all go through painful seasons. Believers are not exempt from the fallenness of this world. We will experience the same things that unbelievers experience: the loss of loved ones, heart disease, cancer, tragedies, depression, disappointments, sorrow and grief, pain and suffering, the loss of employment and the list could go on and one. Until we grasp the fact that we are not exempt from these seasons, we will be sorely disappointed when they come.
The difference between the believer an the unbeliever, is that he or she will not be alone during these times. When Anne was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML), a terminal disease in many cases, I claimed Isaiah 43:2 as the verse that I would claim for our lives.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)
Notice the first word of the verse — “When” and not “if.” The Father of mercies is preparing us for the overwhelming floods of difficulties and the fiery trials we will face on this earth. We will experience them! If you haven’t already, you will.
Notice what God promises us in this verse. When we go through these seasons, we are not alone. He is with us. These floods and fiery trials will not consume us. We will go through them and God will be with us. And God will take us through them!
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
In the midst of our struggles, Jesus is there. He holds us in the palm of His hand and takes us through these dark valleys of life.
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