Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Purpose of Suffering and Comfort (part 2)

"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 Co 1:3-5 ESV]

Have you noticed that when we suffer and receive comfort from God that our problems do not vanish? If God made difficulty disappear, we would only go to Him for pain relief.

Meister Eckhart (1260?-1327?) said, “Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love their cow--for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage. Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have in your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost Truth.”

Who can deny the deeper struggles we face when we have the wrong approach to God's comfort? We try to kill pain with substance that often becomes abused or we try to control the pain by hurting ourselves. Reality never retreats after a binge: the lights are still off, the refrigerator is still empty, the gas tank is still dry, your co-workers are still there, etc.

God is not making you “go through this.” He is loving you. The reason why God comforts us in our difficulty is so that we can love Him, not dull our senses. Receiving God’s love means we:

  • receive strength to deal with our troubles;
  • receive hope that our discomfort will become ease;
  • receive encouragement to deal with our troubles. 

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