Refresh Friday

Spring is starting to break here in the Pacific Northwest and I hope wherever you are, you’re starting to see more sun! It’s Refresh Friday, a break time from regular posting, and a time to take a breather from your week.

I cannot know why suddenly the storm
Should rage so fiercely round me in its wrath;
But this I know–God watches all my path,
And I can trust.

I may not draw aside the unseen veil
That hides the unknown future from my sight,
Nor know if for me waits the dark or light;
But I can trust.

I have no power to look across the tide,
To see while here the land beyond the river;
But this I know–I will be God’s forever;
So I can trust.

 – from Streams in the Desert, L.B. Cowman

dandelion

Photo credit: Johnny Wills (used by permission)

Are you in a storm today? Feeling uncertain of the next step you’ll take in some season of your life? In the darkness of a valley of sorrow? I pray for you right now that you’d trust God, no matter how weak you feel that trust is. Trust Him to walk with you, to carry you when you feel like you can’t go on, to be near you when you feel far away from everything and everyone.

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Sharing Christ’s Sufferings

(Part 3 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort

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.

2 Corinthians 3:5

What does it mean to “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings”? And how does this relate to comfort?

I have struggled for the last several days to grasp this weighty concept. In spite of this effort, I am not sure how near I am to understanding it yet. So I’m going to offer some thoughts on this and not try to tie it all up neatly with a bow.

Christ’s sufferings encompass the physical, mental, and spiritual. In light of Paul’s verse, I thought it would be useful to briefly list some of the various sufferings of Christ as I observed them in scripture: Continue reading

The Who and Why of Comfort

(Part 2 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: The God of Mercy and Comfort

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.

 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 6-7

Today I’m taking two “chunks” of this passage together because they are so connected to each other in meaning. I’ll come back for verse 5 next time.

The Sources of Our Comfort

Paul speaks in verse 4 about who it is that comforts us in affliction. Ultimately all sources of comfort have their origin in God. God’s comfort manifests itself in several ways: Continue reading

The God of Mercy and Comfort

(Part 1 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,   2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV

Paul begins this section of 2 Corinthians by pointing to and praising God. Paul often praises God, but in this case, he praises him specifically for being the God of “mercies” and “comfort.” This is our foundation for the entire passage (3-11).

mercy

Photo credit: info.alliancenet.org

When you think of mercy, what do you come up with? To me it’s something you do or say to or for someone in need that brings them relief. You lend your strength to a person who is weak. You hold them up when they cannot hold themselves. Here Paul uses the Greek word oiktirmos, meaning “to have compassion on.” It is not the usual word for “mercy” in the Greek, as it indicates a deep, reliable compassion toward suffering that we can depend upon receiving from God.

In other words, God is always there when you need Him. He is unswerving in His faithfulness to you. He is not simply standing from a distance observing that you are struggling; rather He sees and is affected in His heart by your difficulties. He is near and willing to intervene, whether that means sending you a person to help, changing your circumstances (but not always!), or most importantly helping you see how He has acted mercifully in the past. Continue reading