I've never been a very emotional person. Becoming overly emotional is one of the worst parts of divorce. You begin to wonder if you're going to be a crazy, irrational person for the rest of your life. The constant barrage of mixed emotions is enough to put you flat on your back, looking up at God and wondering why emotions exist in the first place.
Logic comforts me, but unfortunately, in most severely depleting emotional moments, I just want to feel better.
I want someone to hug me. Someone to tell me it's going to be okay. Not with a look, but with their words.
I want to feel a sense that all is going to be well...eventually.
But God doesn't necessarily want us to find comfort in our emotions alone.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-10, Paul has just experienced intense, emotional affliction in Asia:
For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
Burdened beyond your strength?
Despairing of life itself?
Feeling like you've been sentenced to death?
I've been there...
But this was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead. FACT. Not Feeling.
Paul references factual information about God to help him refocus on the hope of God's deliverance. His true source of comfort.
At the start of 2 Corinthians 1, Paul declares that God is the God of ALL comfort. Here are five things we can KNOW, so we aren't reliant on merely the FEELINGS of comfort.
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 we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings you will also share in our comfort.
1. A Direct Promise: Verse 4 promises that God WILL comfort us in ALL our affliction. That's it. A direct, succinct promise. He will. Trust that promise, even when it doesn't feel true.
2. A Purpose for Our Pain: God comforts us so we can comfort others. Not just others who have been through our pain, but others who have been through ANY pain. We can communicate truths and provide those hugs and encouraging words that our friends need. We can reinforce that God has brought us through pain too. That He continues to keep his promise to comfort in ALL affliction.
3. Our Trials May Be Many, But Then So Is Our Comfort: Have you ever noticed how proportionate God's comfort is to our sufferings? It might just be that we're paying more attention to Him because things are going wrong, but I have seen firsthand how God comes alongside giving me passages to read, messages to listen to, friends to lean on, and tangible encouragements that I cannot attribute to anyone but Him. Verse 5 promises us "abundant" comfort. Not just enough to get by. Not just enough to maintain sanity, but an excessive amount of comfort in proportion to our trial.
4. Affliction is for Comfort, and Comfort is for Comfort: Comfort is born out of patience. The patience it takes to grow us and change us the way that God intended. Therefore, affliction is just as much of a comfort as comfort is. When we have the proper perspective and eternal outlook, our suffering has eternal purpose and that itself is a comfort.
5. Paul's Response to Affliction is Hope: His unshakable hope is a result of knowing that shared affliction equals shared comfort. Remember, God just delivered Paul from terrible, deadly peril. The hope is in knowing that God will deliver you from affliction. Comfort for Paul was just in the hope of God's promised deliverance. It won't always be like this friends. Hard. Tiring. Exhausting. Painful. Emotional. Someday we will exist in a perfect Heaven, and Paul knows this eventual hope.