Friday, September 7, 2012
"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." - 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I forget how the gospel has the power to comfort.
I had a friend sharing with me his 13 year struggle with Lyme's disease, and I couldn't do much but just shake my head. Sometimes silence is the best balm for those in pain.
I have another good friend who has been crippled by MS, and has been in a physical downward spiral for the past 10 years. I don't even know how to process his pain.
I spoke with yet another friend today, who was abused as a child and is trying to put the pieces back together. I could see the "tears of the oppressed" barely held back in his eyes.
All around us, every day, are the oppressed. Either disease or evil people have hacked away at the oppressed, and the oppressed truly have nowhere to turn but to God.
Interestingly enough, the verse I pulled from 2 Corinthians continues with: "For we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too."
An idea has been percolating in my brain for a long time. It's this: In whatever form our suffering takes on there is real comfort in the gospel - precisely because the gospel is about a suffering God. In the gospel there is subversive power, power to face the oppressor, power to defeat the oppressor, power found in Jesus Christ, the ultimate sufferer, to reverse everything.
Now I'm not talking some spiritual salve that sounds like the abuse of the phrase "he works all things for good." No I'm talking about the truth that allows Paul to confidently write that statement: That we have a God who not only is intimately aware and familiar with suffering, but who champions the sufferer's cause.
It is my hope that I will get more and more on board with God's agenda: bringing freedom to the oppressed. Whether it's spending time with my friends and simply sitting with them in silence as a listener, or praying continually for them, my hope is that God would warm my heart beside the hearth of his steadfast love, so that I'd know this comfort and as Paul says, be able to "comfort those who are in any affliction."
My part to play is small, and I need comfort as well, but may I play my part well.