Every Tuesday of a school year back in my college days, I enjoyed meeting Levi for coffee, chess, and conversations on living a Jesus-centered life. Levi is a senior and faithfully serves Jesus by living life with and discipling others with the. He also passionately leads worship with his guitar during Wednesday evening Praise Nights.
Levi was born with a weak heart. Over the years, we have had good conversations about God’s power being made perfect through our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Levi has been in the ICU waiting for a heart transplant. Yet, he is still leading us in worship from the ICU–in a different way. As we journey with Levi, God led me in my quiet time to this scripture written to believers going through tough circumstances:
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 receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 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 (2 Corinthians 1:3-7, NIV).
Four relevant truths stand out to me:
1. “Praise…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” In suffering and trials, I need to praise God for who He is, our compassionate Daddy. He knows what it is to suffer. He’s been there…on the cross. Also, He is to be recognized as the God of all comfort. No one is above Him in the area of comfort or any area. He rules. And in His rule, there is comfort. These instructions were given to believers (plural). We are meant to journey through comfort together, as a family. Paul assumes we never walk through trials alone. We suffer praising Jesus together.
2. What we go through is not in vain, but God uses our story to comfort others from the comfort we receive. This sounds repetitious. And it is. My words cannot be any clearer. None of our pain is in vain. Our suffering is purposefully preparing us to comfort others to whom the Holy Spirit leads us who are going through the pain God delivered us through by His compassion and comfort.
3. Just as suffering abounds, His comfort abounds. I think we have the first half down. There’s been a plethora of teaching about suffering in Christ. Do we talk about that more because suffering is more achievable, because it’s easier to focus on circumstances more than Christ? It’s easy for me, in the flesh, to see that suffering abounds. But praise Jesus that comfort abounds! In fact, God ensured this by giving us His Holy Spirit who is called our Comforter. Jesus said before He died, ”And I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you forever” (reference).
4. Verse seven proclaims our hope is firm! Later in the same letter, Paul writes, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him.” The tomb is empty (2 Cor. 13:4)! We get to participate in more than just coloring Easter eggs and wearing pastels. As believers, we experience the power of God and live in Him!
Since I started writing this blog entry, Levi had his heart transplant and left the hospital today…HEALTHY! Praise the God of all comfort!