Sometimes life comes at us fast
Rob Bell, a young adults pastor, did a DVD called Rain. In the DVD he takes his baby son on a hike. When they left it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was out, but it wasn’t too hot. It was a perfect day for a stroll through the woods, a good chance for a dad to spend some quality time with his son. When they had just nearly reached their destination, that place which is as far away as they could have been from the starting point, Rob saw the clouds roll in. He heard the thunder, and looked back at his son. The rain began and his let out the most ear piercing scream. Rob tried to cover him up and to protect. He walked quickly and kept his son safe, but his son’s fear was could not be taken away, so the tears and screaming continued. Imagine how the dad felt, that he couldn’t comfort his son, but he tried his best to take care of him and keep him safe. Rob’s son probably will not remember, but Rob describes this time as one of the most special times he has had with his son, because through that time of trouble and fear, through that storm, Rob was able to take care of his son. He was able to hold him close, and love him.
Our God is like that Dad. He loves to comfort us!!!
Sometimes life comes at us fast. One day everything looks good and hopeful, and the next we find to be a day of hurt and sadness. One day the weather might be beautiful, peaceful, quite; while the next is full of storms.
The NIV entitles this section of Paul’s letters, “The God of All Comfort,” because through all of his suffering and through all of the church of Corinth’s sufferings God was faithful to comfort.
Lets read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings so also you share in our comfort.
The question is often posed to Christians, if God is such a loving God, why do such bad things happen to good people?
The same question may be asked of the church, if God loves his church so much, why do they have to face hard times?
One reason is that we live in a fallen messed up world. We as a church are full of fallen and messed up people.
Secondly, scripture tells that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
However, I believe one of the biggest reason that churches can be hurt, is because God loves to show compassion and comfort to his people. I am not saying that God makes the bad things happen, but that through these times God loves to be that dad in the storm. The dad he cuddles us up under his raincoat, covers our ears, and holds us close. I believe that God uses these times to remind us that he loves us and we need Him.
Because God comforts us, vs. 4 says that we can comfort others in any trouble with the comfort that we ourselves have received from God. This I believe is one of the most beautiful things about the church. Because God has comforted us, we can comfort each other. Because God takes care of us, we can take care of each other.
Over the past week, the Session has been great. God has used the elders have to comfort and to support us as the staff. They have taken every opportunity to minister to Denny and Tammy, and their family. Now we are able to comfort and support you, and during this time we as a church can come together by comforting each other.
Francis of Assisi wrote this prayer
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy.
Oh, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, but to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life!
During this time let us seek to be comforters, rather than seek to be comforted.
This I believe is our challenge over the next several months. Can we as a church come together and comfort and support each other. Can we come together and give the Hiebers the love and support they need. In other words can we be the church that God calls us to be?
Finally, vs. 6 says that this comfort that God gives us produces in us a patient endurance. In other words he uses these times to make us strong to run the long marathon race that is the Christian life.
In order for a runner to prepare for a marathon, they don’t simply go out and run the 26 miles, they have start smaller and the build themselves up, they challenge themselves with smaller races in order to strengthen themselves for that long race.
God also gives us challenges, sufferings, and comfort in those times in order that it may produce the patient endurance that it takes to finish the Christian life, so that when we go to be with the Lord he will say well done good and faithful servant, you have finished the race.
God truly is the God of all comfort both now and for our entire journey with the Lord!!