FINDING COMFORT IN THE UNCOMFORTABLE
- Key Verse
- "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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- READ THE CHAPTER
God is the "God of all comfort." Really? How about that new toy, dress, physique, vacation, title, relationship, drug, trophy, exclusive membership, party . . . ? How long do those earthly comforts really last? We find true comfort in God alone and the eternal gifts He gives us in serving others.
ReflectionsA couple of years ago, a young, hurting father was coming to me for help with his prodigal, wayward child. His own community group was incredibly wise, so I asked, "Why are you coming to me?" He replied, "Because you have walked this path; they haven't." What would I say to him? How could I comfort him, when he felt so helpless, hopeless, and afraid? I could only serve him in that moment because I had indeed walked this path. God in His providence and grace had chosen to grow me, touch me, and teach me for a few years in the most painful and scary place I had ever experienced.
My community comforted me, but I did not find comfort in platitudes and empty promises. I eventually found comfort by heeding their warnings and rebukes. I began to lead myself and my family well and to become more of the man and father God wanted me to be. I found true comfort when I obeyed the principles found in His Word and placed my faith, trust, and security in Him alone, instead of myself.
I never thought I would say this, but I thank God every day for my experience and for every heartache that has brought me closer to Him. I thank God that I had the words that afternoon to give my hurting brother the comfort God had given me, all for His glory. John Piper summarizes, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
As I look back on my life, I fall to my knees in worship and thanksgiving for the goodness He has bestowed on me. He allowed my hardships to shape me, not break me. He has allowed me to find true eternal comfort, and for the rest of my life, I will be blessed to be able to comfort others with His truth. I pray each of you will take full advantage of the troubles you face to grow closer to Him and serve Him by serving others. That is where the God of all "true comfort" is found.
Discussion Questions1. Where have you sought comfort in the last month, year? Is that "comfort" still comforting you?
2. Picture yourself standing before Jesus at the end of your life and presenting Him with the things in which you sought comfort. Which of these things would Jesus acknowledge by saying, "Well done"? How can you begin to be comforted by the things of God?
3. Have you missed any opportunities by focusing more on your own inconvenience and hardship in your struggles than by the opportunity to glorify God and grow closer to Him in the process? How can you prepare yourself to not miss your next opportunity?
4. Have you ever comforted others with God's Word and seen life change? If not, why? If you have experienced this, can you share how that comfort compares to other earthly comforts you enjoy?
WEEKLY FAMILY ACTIVITY
2 Corinthians 1-5 (July 9-13)
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
• Verse 7 talks about our bodies being like fragile clay jars, what do you think this means?
• How do you see your body being fragile (both physically and spiritually)?
• Have you ever watched someone else experience verses 8 & 9; that is, go through really hard times, but not be "crushed"?
• What did you see in that person? What helped that person to continue to trust Jesus and show others He is faithful?
• What are ways that you might be "crushed" or "pressed"? (Think about school, work, sports, friends.)
• How can you trust the "treasure" inside of you to shine through even in the hard times?
Activity: Take time to write an encouraging letter to a person you have seen stay faithful and shine for Jesus even in hard times. And then write a letter to someone you know who is in the middle of hard times. Be sure to encourage them with Scripture, reminding them of the treasure they have and who is faithful. Now mail the letters to each of them.