This morning I sent a text message to my daughters and husband as I frequently do. Each and every time I enter their names I feel the sting of leaving Sarah’s off. Today as I felt it, I refused to leave her off. I entered her name and began reading our previous messages. Normally I would not allow myself such an indulgence, knowing it comes at great cost, but today my open schedule accommodated my desperation for her. Reading each message I slowly scrolled backward in time, laughter and tears once again joined as I “heard” her quirky sense of humor and my heart longed all the more for her presence.
Today is just a Wednesday. it’s not a holiday or special day or date for my family or me. It’s not the first week, month or year without her here. In fact it is the 951st day, and tomorrow will be 136 weeks of living in her absence. Nonetheless, I find myself unable to push away the ever beckoning arms of memories and sorrow today.
“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. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 [NASB]
But in the midst of this I rejoice. I was meditating earlier this week on 2 Corinthians 1 and it immediately came to mind this morning as sorrow gripped me. It is only through the abundance of my sorrow that I have been enabled to experience the abundance of God’s comfort. There is an intimacy that comes only in the midst of suffering, the intimacy of comforting and being comforted. I know Him more intimately because of my sorrow, and in that I greatly rejoice.
“But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort..” 2 Corinthians 1:6 [NASB]
More than that, I rejoice in the knowledge that my sorrow is not fruitless. There is a redeeming of our affliction as it combines with His gracious comfort. Through the receiving of His comfort, our affliction has the potential for exceeding fruitfulness. He 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 Him. His comfort is desperately needed in this fallen world and, by His design, our personal testimonies of affliction and comfort are effective for the comforting of others with the Hope of Christ.
“…if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer” 2 Corinthians 1:6 [NASB]
I also find tremendous encouragement in the defining of comfort in this passage. His comfort is not a promised removal of our affliction, suffering, sorrow or pain. His comfort is His effective enabling for patient enduring in the midst of the suffering. The fact that I am not cured of my sorrow is not a sign of my failing to receive His comfort. To the contrary, His Word makes it clear that “patient enduring” in the midst of suffering is the mark of having received His comfort.
So this morning with tears and rejoicing I echo Paul and Timothy saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”
Come, Lord Jesus.
My last text messages with Sarah