Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Comforting Words (part 2)

It’s difficult to tell from the outset, but as Paul is suffering quietly he opens his second letter to the Corinthian church with an doxology (an outburst of praise): “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

1618-1648 the “Thirty Years War” raged in Europe over who was going to control Germany. Entire regions were devastated, stripped by by foraging armies. Military and civilian survivors were eventually hit with famine and disease that followed the waste of wartime. Countries in the conflict went bankrupt. Lawlessness added to the hardships.

Martin Rinkart was one of four pastors in a small German town that was overrun three times by battling armies. The city and his home eventually became a place for refugees and their diseases. One pastor left for reasons of health and safety. Martin buried the other two pastors along with his wife, performing as many as 50 funerals each day. Martin wrote these words:

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

In our day, the only way to sing about circumstances is to sing the blues. Paul is not singing about his circumstances but is bursting with praise to God who controls all circumstances. Praise is an important element to victory over discouragement and depression. “Praise changes things” just as much as “Prayer changes things.”

In this season of thanksgiving let us be mindful that when we worship, the downcast soul is leans on the God of all comfort.

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