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October
4
2014

Comfort in Crises

Comfort in Crises

   A woman had been grieving for a son over a long time. She went to see a wise man who listened to her and then said, “I will give you back your son if you will bring me some mustard seed from a home where there has never been any sorrow.” The woman left and started visiting everyone. After a week, she returned to the wise man. “How selfish I’ve been in my grief. Sorrow is common to all.”

    In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul deals with one of his favorite themes: trouble and comfort. In the 13 chapters of 2 Corinthians, five of them deal with this theme. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, we see four principles:

Occurrence of Crises. Paul uses two words here: (1) tribulation—a burden beneath a heavy load; and (2) sufferings—“pathos”—physical, emotional pain. There are three types of crises due to 3 relationships:

  1. We’re Related to the Natural World. Because we all trace our lineage back to Adam, we are all affected by his sin. We all face: (1) Destruction—natural catastrophies like tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes. (2) Death—“As in Adam all die.” The death rate has never changed: one death for every birth! (3) Disease—sickness falls over all our lives and causes suffering—germs abound in a sin-filled world.

  2. We’re Related to the World of People. We also suffer because of people interaction: personality conflicts, misunderstandings, disappointments, betrayals, hurt feelings. Remember Jesus was betrayed by one of His disciples. See Psalm 55:12-14. We’re related to the human race.

  3. We’re Related to Christ. This is the only type of trouble where we have a choice! When we choose to receive Christ, a new form of trouble rears its head: persecution. Jesus said that because the world hates Him, it will hate His followers.

Origin of Comfort. See verse 3—God is the God of all comfort. The world attempts to find comfort in alcohol but they find that trouble floats. They attempt to get high on drugs, but eventually they have to come down. They try to sleep away their troubles, but they must awake and face the world. Only from God can we find true comfort—see John 14:1. Here are three sources of comfort.

  1. Scriptures. God’s Word gives us strength and hope. Read the Bible—God will speak to you.

  2. Sympathy from Friends. “A friend loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17). We’ve all been blessed by a phone call, a card, or a visit from someone who cares.

  3. Spirit of God. Jesus called the Holy Spirit our Comforter—literally One Who is called along side of us during our crises—John 14:16, 18. The Spirit reassures, comforts, and gives us hope.

Opportunity of Crises.  Do you know what would happen if you tried to help a caterpillar out of the cocoon? You would kill it. The birds and insects need that exertion at the birth to develop their lungs and inner organs. Crises have God-given opportunities:

  1. Test Our Faith. See 1 Peter 1:7. Our faith is like gold that is tested by the fire. The fire burns away all the impurities. Are we walking by faith or sight? How much can we stand? When we are tested, we learn the quality of our faith.

  2. Produce Patience. We need the grace to endure victoriously—not just to grin and bear it. Tribulation works patience. We learn by going through trials.

  3. New Place of Trust. See v. 9. We tend to start trusting in ourselves. Crises strip us of our self-confidence and we start putting our eyes on the Lord. Crises pull the rug out from under us and force us to look up again instead of being proud and self-reliant.

Obligation of Comfort. See verse 4. Notice the progression: we have crises, God comforts us, then we comfort others by the comfort we received. Only the Christian will understand this truth. Jesus said, “Freely you have received, freely give” (Matt.10:8). Imagine an ant carrying a piece of straw. The ant comes to a crack in the ground which she can’t cross by herself. However, the ant takes the straw, pushes it over the crack, and walks across the straw. The burden became a bridge! Our burdens become bridges—we become conduits through whom God comforts others. “No man lives to himself; no man dies to himself” (Rom.14:7). Your experiences are not to be selfishly hoarded but used for the glory of God and the good of others.

   Note some of these cases where comfort was shared while being in crises:

  1. “Home Sweet Home” – written by John Payne, a wanderer.

  2. “Pilgrim’s Progress” – penned by John Bunyan who was in prison at the time.

  3. “Amazing Grace” came from the grateful heart of John Newton who had many brushes with death.

  4. “Nearer My God to Thee” -  written by Flower Adams whose poor health forced her to write.

  5. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” – inspired in the heart of Joseph Scriven who wanted to encourage his sick mother.

So, don’t run from your experiences! Bear with them patiently. Learn all you can during them. Many times the crises of life crush us so the sweet perfume of comfort may emerge. What have you gone through that you can share with others. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable. He comforts us to make us comforters!

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