When you are in the middle of a battle you can only hope to survive. Most people don’t think, “Boy, when this struggle is over, I can’t wait to share it with others, so that people can learn from me.” Battle strategies focus on immediate outcomes, not tomorrow’s encounters.
At the beginning of 2 Corinthians, we see a leader in conflict. And as he pours out his heart, he isn’t looking to win, he’s sharing truth for generations to come.
InterVarsity Presssums up the Apostle Paul’s letter: “Second Corinthians is all about relationships—not perfect ones, but real ones …most people try to use strength and wisdom to win their way back. They create just the right leadership image. But Paul chose to pour out his soul to them, trusting that in the process Christ would be revealed. Paul’s searing honesty offers exactly what the world so deeply hungers for: it tells us how to be really real.”
That’s my quest. How can I be really real and yet point others to Christ?
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 all 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 and salvation; if we are comforted, 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.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1: 3-11
What passage is on your mind today?
(Participating in the writing challenge? Here are the details.)
The children are screaming upstairs, resisting bed time. The dog is jumping up on the counter trying to eat the scraps from dinner. Preacher hubby is at a meeting tonight. And I’m alone with the last ounce of dark chocolate in the house.
I’m scared to admit the truth. I can feel it. I hate to tell you here, because I should be reaching out for help. But, if I reach out for help then I’m admitting it’s back. Maybe if I just ignore it, ignore life, ignore true relationships, then it will go away. But I don’t think that will happen.
So why write?
Today is the first day of September as well the the first day of What’s on Your Mind [fall edition] ’09. Want to join in? Then tell us your why.
Originally, my writing began as an outreach of my speaking ministry. And although I do continue for that purpose, I have a greater reason today. Community. What I found in the blogging world was a beautiful community. This community doesn’t demand I show up just to show up. They require that I show up with content that is steeped in honesty.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthinas 1: 3-7 (The Message):
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
By writing, I receive comfort from the Father of mercy. By reading, you receive encouragement that your wrongs will also be made right. We endure hard times together knowing that we will make it just as others before us have made it.
Tonight, as I close up my thoughts, the kids are quiet, the dog is sleeping, my hubby is still gone, but my heart is still. The Holy Spirit brought me peace through the Word and these words. My heart is thankful for the understanding. Yet I know more struggles are ahead. Good news – some of you will read this and call angry because I didn’t tell you that it was hovering. So, I’ll have a few days ahead to explain myself. And that’s OK with me. It’s all in the community!
Please join in with your post or write in the comment section. Blessings on your Tuesday!
If you missed part I read it here.
As a child, I loved to perform. I remember dancing in front of the TV and singing with the theme song to Brady Bunch (as often as my family would allow). In grade school I sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow for a mother daughter banquet while holding our neighbor’s dog who looked just like Toto. I had dreams of being the next Whitney Houston, even singing a Christian version of her Greatest Love of All song at a church picnic. Had American Idol been born in the 90′s I might have … well, a girl can dream, can’t she?
[Enter in reality]
A few years ago I went to my first Women of Faith conference. I distinctly remember Sheila Walshlooking directly into the camera and meeting my eyes through the Jumbo-Tron. My insides ached to be part of the faith team.
Funny how God works. See, I needed to learn the ache of Christ, the desire of His heart, before gaining an audience.
[Enter in postpartum depression]
Today, as I strive to find balance between the spotlight of ministry and the humility of weakness, I find comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:
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 all 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.
I never would have imagined God using the darkest time in my life as a platform for ministry. But, it happened. And I do enjoy sharing both the pain and the joy that I have experienced in my walk with Christ.
Where do you find yourself today? Are you needing comfort or offering comfort to others? What is Jesus teaching you about His comfort?
I don’t have much to give today.
But, that’s the beauty of God. He gives over and above what we can ever expect.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21
And our topic today, couldn’t be better for a “down” day… 2 Corinthians 1.
Let me admit a flaw in my recent biblical reading patterns.
I often skim over the opening and closing remark in Paul’s letters.
I know, I know…
But, I’ve changed!
A few weeks ago I was working in my new devotional study when the author asked me to read the beginning of 2 Corinthians. Well, as usual, I skimmed over it. Until I realized the whole 5 page daily study was centered just on the opening paragraph. UGH! So, I sat down and read it. And it blew me away.
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 all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
God is described as the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
Could you rest in that today?
Then within the above verses there are 2 words which give me great purpose.
How many times have I cried out “Why Lord?”
SO THAT we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
There is so much else that my heart aches to share. But, I’m so excited to hear from you. What’s on Your Mind?
Below is recommended reading for Tuesday’s What’s On Your Mind. Think over it and we’ll discuss it on Tuesday. Have a great weekend!
2 Corinthians 1 (The Message)
1-2 I, Paul, have been sent on a special mission by the Messiah, Jesus, planned by God himself. I write this to God’s congregation in Corinth, and to believers all over Achaia province. May all the gifts and benefits that come from God our Father and the Master, Jesus Christ, be yours! Timothy, someone you know and trust, joins me in this greeting.
3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort-we get a full measure of that, too.
6-7 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it.
8-11 We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally-not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation-I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.
12-14 Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world-and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus.
15-16 Confident of your welcome, I had originally planned two great visits with you-coming by on my way to Macedonia province, and then again on my return trip. Then we could have had a bon-voyage party as you sent me off to Judea. That was the plan.
17-19 Are you now going to accuse me of being flip with my promises because it didn’t work out? Do you think I talk out of both sides of my mouth-a glib yes one moment, a glib no the next? Well, you’re wrong. I try to be as true to my word as God is to his. Our word to you wasn’t a careless yes canceled by an indifferent no. How could it be? When Silas and Timothy and I proclaimed the Son of God among you, did you pick up on any yes-and-no, on-again, off-again waffling? Wasn’t it a clean, strong Yes?
20-22 Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge-a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.
23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.
24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.