December 28 I Monday
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” —2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Our natural instinct is to think that suffering destroys and, of course, it can and it does. Not only does it cause physical and emotional pain, but it can poison our attitudes with anger and bitterness. We may even start to blame God for the awful things that happen to us, dragging others into our bitterness in the process.
How then do we find comfort in suffering? Many turn to family, friends, doctors, therapists, pastors and even self-help books. Then when all else fails, they turn to Christ as a last resort when indeed He needs to be our first resort.
David writes, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life” (Psalm 119:50). In verse 52, he adds, “I remember, LORD, Your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.” In other words, we take our direction from the Word of God, which feeds our soul and calms our fears. In the New Testament, Paul writes, “…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). We can rejoice in our sufferings because it builds our characters, which will equip us for every trial that comes our way.
God also comforts us through others. Paul speaks of a particularly difficult time in Macedonia when he says, “…we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus...” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6). Titus was a disciple of Christ and supported and encouraged Paul in a time of need. We may be inclined to shut the world out when circumstances overwhelm us, but a willing spirit listens to a fellow believer and it is like a breath of fresh air, reaffirming our faith.
Above all, we can take comfort in an attitude of thankfulness to God. In our sufferings, we thank God for His presence and sufficiency in them. Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). This is not a peace we muster ourselves, but a peace that derives from God. It transcends human logic because we will find ourselves going about our days as though our problems are already solved. In God’s eyes, they are, and we need to trust Him for this. In Him, we are conquerors not “over” our sufferings, but “in” our sufferings. We can endure even our darkest of times because we are locked in to God by the love of Christ.
Prayer: Dear Father, forgive me for when bitterness has prevailed in my sufferings. Keep me aware of Your presence and grant me a spirit of gratitude and hope in You during troubling times. Thank You, Father.