WARNING: You will experience
– a heavy load with loses accumulating while suffocation feels inevitable.
Does that sound like something you would ask to experience? I am sure you are like me in that “Afflictions” would never be something we would ask God to send us. And yet, as a Christian, that “warning” label is for us; we can expect just that!
A memory lingers from when I was 8 years old attending a week of Bible camp and sitting in the huge auditorium with the loud fans whirling in the back while the speaker gave the invitation to the gospel. A compelling desire quaked inside me, and my curiosity peaked. I stood, stepped out into the aisle, and walked the long passage to the stage. After climbing the stairs, I was met by a kind lady, who took me off to the side to share the gospel once again and invite me to ask Jesus to be my Savior from sin, receiving the free gift of eternal life. The “afflictions” were not part of the presentation or even circled in a pamphlet. But even if they had been, it would not have mattered because God had called me and flooded my heart with His peace. And yes, through 51 years following that decision of an 8-year-old, there has been heartbreak, turmoil, and despairing of life moments, but God rescued me many times over (Psalm 116).
After growing in my faith and studying the Bible, I learned everything we experience has a purpose and is part of God’s wise plan. The Apostle Paul, in his instructive autobiographical book of 2 Corinthians, shares his journey so we can understand the purpose behind the suffering.
- To comfort others
- To stop relying on yourself
- To pray and give thanks
The Apostle Paul begins with praise to our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by describing Him as a Father of mercies and the source of all comfort. Our Heavenly Father wants us to experience all of Who He is. It is through the stormy times of our lives that we truly come to know Him as He is. But once we experience His comfort, He instructs us to share it with others. We do not “hunker down” and keep it to ourselves. We comfort others who are weighed down, so they can patiently endure the blustery winds we all experience on this tour.
A Christian’s journey will be burdened excessively beyond our strength (2 Corinthians 1:8). We might begin to wonder if we will ever live through it. In fact, the Apostle Paul tells us he and his workers lived with a sentence of death so as to not rely on themselves but in God who raises the dead (1:9).
When we stop trusting in ourselves and trust in our God Who created us for a purpose, our confidence grows in the One Who is able to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or think. Besides, our ultimate deliverance is sure (1:10).
Paul testified to the power of prayer and how they were helped because of those prayers. Thanksgiving erupted because of those prayers (1:11).
When we pray for one another, we have more opportunities to give thanks for God’s gracious favor bestowed upon us through answered prayer!
Are you experiencing affliction? Ask our Heavenly Father to show you how to use it for His glory. Then share the comfort with another, rely on God’s sustaining power, and pray and give thanks.