Unshaken

Monday School is brought to you again by Paul, the self-described chief sinner, grace-saved apostle of Jesus Christ. I read a lot of Paul’s letters – it’s hard not to since 13 of his letters are books in the Bible –  so he inspires many of my Monday School thoughts.

Actually this week’s passage is more than a thought. This is one of those passages used by God at a pivotal time in my life to change my life. I was attending an overnight women’s conference in Georgia with a wonderful group of women during a painful season. More than painful – I thought my life was falling apart. The teacher at the conference spoke from 2 Corinthians 1:3-7:

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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

I needed to know the God of all comfort like never before that weekend 20 years ago. And I did. I’ll never forget the peace I had on the way home. Not peace from untroubled circumstances but a deep well-being that comes from resting in God’s sovereignty and mercy. I knew the Father of mercies would be with me through that painful season and all the ones to come and I knew I would be able to comfort others with the same comfort.

Sometimes what isn’t said is just as important as what is said. Paul didn’t say we’re comforted by a changed situation. He didn’t say we’re comforted once our difficulties go away. Paul never said we won’t suffer.

Paul said we are comforted.

By Who?  The God of all comfort.

When are we comforted?  In our afflictions. Other Bible versions say during our troubles and every time we have trouble.

Why are we comforted? So that we can comfort others in times of trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Paul’s opponents questioned his ministry because of his trials. They thought his suffering disqualified him or minimized the effectiveness of his ministry but Paul proclaimed the troubles only made his ministry more powerful.

If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Paul’s affliction and the comfort in the affliction is for our comfort.

I’ve had the privilege of comforting others going through similar trials or difficulties. I remember how I was comforted and hope I do the same. The only true comfort I can bring is to point them to the One who comforts me still.

Paul’s hope for us was unshaken because he knew the God of all comfort. He knew the Father of mercies. Paul knew God uses our trials and tribulations and the comfort in them to give us strength and to help strengthen others.

Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

 

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

Identical

I’m Like Them

“We misunderstand God altogether if we think He deals coarsely with our souls.”
Henry Drummond

My journey through Lent this week has given me new thoughts on old stories. The stories were part of the daily devotions from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. I revisited the story of Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple for buying and selling there.

Am I like the merchants?

I reread the story of Thomas who declared that “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25

Am I like Thomas?

The story of Peter is another one. Not only did Peter fall asleep in the garden when Jesus asked he and his other friends to keep watch but he denied he knew him. Peter turned his back on the very One he confessed as the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Am I like Peter?

Yes. I’m like them.

How many times have I tried trading with God….tried to get something from God in exchange for my faith or good deeds? “Look what I’m doing God. I’m serving and giving and studying. I’m working hard for You. Now bless me. Make my life comfortable and give me what I want.”

I’ve been the one not believing….not trusting until I can see. “Show me Lord, then I’ll trust You.”

My denial doesn’t look the same as Peter’s but I’ve turned my back on the One who loves me with an everlasting love. By not following Him. By not loving others. By withholding forgiveness. By causing others to feel less than.

But God doesn’t deal coarsely with our souls.

God is kind when He reminds me that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9

God is patient when I have doubts and fears. As Jesus did for Thomas, in His mercy He will give me the “grace of interior vision, the gift of the opening of the heart, and of its surrender.”

God is tender with me when I’ve turned my back. It was Jesus who turned to look at Peter as he was denying him for the third time. (Luke 22:61) There wasn’t judgment in Jesus’ eyes. There was love.

And I am thankful for His kindness.

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”  Romans 2:4

For more thoughts on our Lenten journey visit my friend, Joy, at her website A Life-Giving Moment.

Confess

A Clear View

Though my daughter and I climbed the mountain for about two hours, our view didn’t compare to this guy’s atop the imposing flatiron.

Blake and I were content to watch others as we rested and shared our snacks.

IMG_4703.JPG

Several teenagers climbed a rock below us to see the other side and get a different view.

IMG_5970

High or low, on a mountain or in the valley, the happiest of times, the sad ones, and the scary ones too…..the best view is the one where you look back and see God’s mercies.

And when you can do that…..

you have the best view of all.
Scale