Life can be rough: Divorced after 18 years of marriage, laid off again, losing someone very close to you, sitting in a courtroom with your child again, begging a spouse to go to counseling, worrying about your family’s safety, or hearing the doctor say the test is positive. These are not the scenarios we plan to face in life, yet if you have breath in your lungs, you have experienced some level of a life struggle. Life is always coming at you, and to cope, we look for something to bring us comfort.
The Apostle Paul understood challenges, trials, and life struggles. He highlighted a few in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, “I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
It is when we face the toughest challenges, the overwhelming stresses, and the daily hardships that we need something on which to hold. We long for the strength of a helping hand to pull us up and to give us hope. A major theme of Paul’s letters, and especially 2 Corinthians, is strength found in the comfort of Jesus. In the opening chapter of this letter, Paul mentions comfort ten times in just five verses.
Feel free to count them in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7, “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. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
It is through suffering that our hearts draw closer to God because He is able to comfort us. As we look to Him over other forms of coping, Jesus is working in us for our good, molding us into His image.