2 Corinthians 1:3-11; The God of All Comfort 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, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 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. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, [a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
Indeed, I praise God! It is amazing the lengths He will go to personally ensure that His daughters and sons are okay. I can humbly say that I am okay. I wasn’t before. There was this whole battle going on in my mind, a none stop buzzing that would not quit and was making me unproductive last week. But today, as I seat in my room typing I’m happy to report that it stopped and I have God to thank for that.
The battle was one of procrastination. I had never felt its load quite like this before but it reached a point where it made me miserable and at quite an inopportune time. I’ll skip the details for now but will tell you that I got down on my knees every day because the truth is that I felt weak and that I needed a higher power that is, My Lord, to help me… and surprise! Surprise! He took me into lesson 1789: As I comfort you, comfort them too.
My reaction was ‘seriously? Right now? Can I even? I am the sick one, Father!’ I was in shock for a few minutes and even tried to buy time. I know it sounds funny but it was real. I had spent part of the previous day reading up on how to deal with my issue and 24 hours later I had to play doctor… but I remembered what I keep telling God each morning… ‘Bless me so I can be a blessing to others, help me leave out my purpose today…’ I am always negotiating lots with him. So it was time to keep my word… I got on phone and did my duty… and as I spoke to my friend who was facing similar challenges the whole time it felt like I was speaking back to myself… I suspect I was even more encouraged than when I had been reading on my own. With courage, I left the house and went to do what I must. And then that night right before I slept, I again had the need to share on a bigger platform.
So last week was about procrastination, it could be different for you. Our reading today clearly states that God is the Father of Compassion and the God of all Comfort, who comforts us in ALL our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
God is not picky in dealing with our issues hence the emphasis on ‘ALL.’ He does not work in separateness but in SOLIDARITY. He gives so that it can be SHARED because He gives generously. And if we are claiming to be made in his image, we also got to be like him in character. As Christians, we are meant to be messengers of his love and grace and to freely give it as it was given to us. Remember when I mentioned negotiation… well one preacher put it this way. He said ‘one of the best ways to get God’s attention is by telling him what and how you are going to use and share what you are asking him for.’ God does not like a selfish mentality and it is for this reason that a number of us do not get what we pray for because we are praying for our own selfish glory and not His Glory. Otherwise, those things end up becoming idols in our hearts and you know He hates that!
I saw this clearly exhibited last night when one of my colleagues posted some very challenging questions about ‘Self-branding and the legacy we want to leave behind wherever we work or live.’ Earlier in the day she been part of a leadership talk given by the former UBOS ED Dr. Ben Mungereza. I am pretty sure a ‘certain need’ prompted her to listen in on this talk. She shared some of the highlights which I believe hit home with all of us… She Received and she Gave. I must mention it’s not her usual means of communication but she stepped out of her comfort zone to share the ‘comfort’ she had received.
So, the comfort God gives is supposed to have a compounding effect. It must not just stop with you. Honor the help or assistance you get by helping others and paying it forward to those that need it. More so, honor those nice comforting messages shared on social media, if you like or it encouraged you or it made you smile… go on and share it. Do not later sit and blame the world for being heartless when you are not ‘heartful’ enough to share the good news when it is as easy as clicking the share button. You might save someone from depression or suicide. You might stop a fight and instead encourage reconciliation. In that you are doing your Christian duty. There’s lots more that can be done in terms of comfort.
Comfort has the benefit of strengthening the will/mind because the body is weak and simply seeks instant gratification or relief. This is never necessarily a good thing and can result into big mistakes. Through comfort we are educating each other about the hardships in life and how to correctly deal with them. When we comfort others, we learn ourselves and how useful we are in the great tapestry of things… We learn how to appreciate each other. Some people may not be good at many things but they know how to make you smile when you are down, they know how to make a yummy cup of coco or spiced tea that makes you feel good, they know how to sit up listening all night with you as you talk about your sadness, some people know how to simply be there when you need them. Some of these things? We must learn and when that reflex comes to walk away, stay just a little bit longer. When that reflex comes to look at the time, resist and give your full attention.
So let’s take a moment to thank God for all the Priests, Pastors, therapists, counselors, writers and bloggers and all who are intentionally dedicated to the ministry of Comfort. ‘And then to those faithful friends who let us rumble on and on, THANK YOU! May the Lord strengthen and bless you all for your kind service.’ Seriously, pray for them every day because it takes from their light and they sometimes forget to take care of themselves and need to be rejuvenated by Christ, our Light. These soldiers stand in the line between peace and insanity.
Lastly, ‘lets us learn to give people the comfort they need and not the comfort we think they need.’ That’s what a certain priest said when we were at a funeral service some years back and it stayed with me. Previously I was convinced, albeit because of my own experience, that there wasn’t much one could do for or say to someone who had lost a loved one. But I was wrong. I look back at when Daddy died and how our friends and family handled it and all I had to do was be present… what I or our family needed at the time was for someone to ‘handle it’ because at that time (sigh) … well you can imagine! God bless them all! So I learned different and am still learning and now hopefully responding better.
If we comfort one another we are acting as one body in Christ, and that is the DREAM we want to see come true.