To Encourage Your Hearts

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV

“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 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.”

One of the reasons that our Lord allows us to suffer, and to go through hard times and trials which test our faith, is so we learn caring and compassion for others who are going through similar sufferings as we have been through, or that we might still be going through. And it is so that we will comfort them in their affliction with the comfort we received (or are still receiving) from the Lord in our suffering.

But we need to understand that this word “comfort” extends beyond just making someone feel good. For the Greek word is “paraklesis,” which is a holy urging that the Lord uses with us to motivate and inspire us to carry out his plan. And it also means a personal exhortation (appeal, warning) and comfort (reassurance, cheer), and encouragement (inspiration, help). So the meaning is much broader than just giving people feel good messages.

And the reason for this, I believe, is because when the Lord takes us through these trials, they serve a purpose in our lives. God uses them in our lives to produce endurance and character and hope. And we are destined for afflictions, for we are called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. And the testing of our faith produces steadfastness of faith, etc. – and all this is dependent on us responding to our trials with faith and not by sinning and deserting.

In other words, the Lord is teaching us what he wants us to learn through our trials, and he is drawing us closer to himself, and he is teaching us to rely on him and not on ourselves, and we are being made holy, and he is changing us and making us more like Jesus. So there are lessons to be learned from our afflictions, and so part of giving comfort to others is also to share with them what the Lord Jesus taught us when we were going through similar difficulties. And this is for their encouragement.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; John 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12]

Well, I am now on day 21 of being sick. Although I am showing some improvement, I am still very weak. I don’t have much physical strength at all. Only by the grace of God and in his strength can I sit at my desk and type these devotions on my computer. And the Lord has increased the number of devotions during my illness, too. I am still coughing. And eating, although that has gotten better, is still a challenge for me. I have to eat very small portions, like a couple of spoonfuls of something each time.

And the main thing the Lord is doing in my life through this trial, I believe, is he is increasing my faith, and he is making me ever more dependent on him. And my life is more surrendered to him now than it was before, which is how I am able to write these devotions each day while still being sick. And I am learning more and more to seek his guidance in every aspect of my life, especially my eating, for although I am not a big eater, I was eating some things which were bad for me, and I have to cut those out of my diet.

So good is being accomplished through this, although the process has been quite painful. It is not painful to give up food. I am speaking here of physical pain and suffering. Physically I have been in a lot of pain, but it could be a whole lot worse, so I am very thankful that it is not. But me sharing with you my trial, and what the Lord is teaching me through it, is what this passage is talking about. We need to share with one another what we are learning from the Lord to encourage each other’s hearts.

And this may be for someone’s salvation, too. For we are saved from our slavery to sin so that we can walk in holiness and in righteousness, in obedient walks of faith in Jesus Christ. But when we go through trials which test our faith, if our faith is not strong, we may cave to those trials. I did many years ago, but I was going through a ton of opposition from the enemy at that point in my life and I felt like I was drowning. And I gave up the fight for a period of time until the Lord brought me back. All glory to God! So don’t give up the fight. Let your faith be increased in your trial.

For, the Scriptures teach us that if we walk in sin, if sin is our “go to,” instead of the Lord, i.e. if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness and obedience to our Lord are not what we practice, and if we don’t remain steadfast in faith until the end, that heaven is not what awaits us. Judgment is what awaits us. So, we have to fight the good fight of faith, and we have to keep our Lord’s commands (New Covenant), free from reproach, until the appearing of our Lord (1 Timothy 6:12-16).

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

A Song of Compassion

Bring Him Home

By Alain Boublil / Claude Michel Schonberg / Herbert Kretzmer

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there

He is young
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home

He’s like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.

Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy

You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die, let me die
Let him live
Bring him home.

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