|Posted on September 18, 2017 at 2:30 PM|
Not many weeks ago the Church in the Woods at Freedom Ranch here in South Florida was praying for those in Texas who were displaced and suffering from Hurricane Harvey. And now most of Florida is suffering the same effects from Hurricane Irma. Added to that we are watching another tropical storm named Maria that is likely to develop into a Hurricane following the footsteps of Irma. The bad news is that we are in the middle of the hurricane season, the good news is we will survive.
Despite the watches, warnings, and threats in our near future we have the calm assurance known as the “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God”. In his opening verses of his second letter to the Corinthian church Paul announced, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1: 3,4) Because we yet live in physical bodies that are falling apart in a sin-cursed world that is falling apart it is not unusual to experience suffering. Because we live in South Florida it is not unusual for that suffering to come through a hurricane. So, where’s the good news? It’s found in the God of all comfort!
Notice Paul states that the God of all comfort continually comforts us in all our tribulation. He states it as a fact. It is not a question or a maybe, it is a fact. Whenever we experience any kind of trial or suffering God immediately goes to work in us to give us hope and comfort through his indwelling Spirit. So why do I freak out when I experience suffering? Because I am looking for and expecting a different kind of comfort than God is offering. Naturally we want to be comforted by knowing nothing bad will happen to us. But that is not the kind of comfort God is giving. He doesn’t comfort us by allowing us to avoid the storm, but rather comforts us in the middle of the storm.
This amazing comfort is what allowed Jesus to take a nap in the middle of the storm on the Sea of Galilee and even prompted Peter to step out of the natural safety of the boat to walk on the water to go to Jesus. It is experienced only when we take our eyes off our circumstances and focus our attention on the love of God in the middle of those circumstances. We naturally waste so much time and energy trying to change our circumstances we fail to recognize the comfort God is offering us in the middle of them. The inner peace and comfort we seek comes only when we relinquish our fantasy of control and trust a loving heavenly Father to meet our every need.
The reason God comforts us in all our tribulation is not just to make us feel better, but to empower us to comfort one another with the very same comfort we have received from God. Receiving his comfort by faith we are able to share it with others who are likewise suffering. The greatest thrill in surviving a hurricane comes from sharing this amazing comfort of God with others by our actions more than our words.