Summary: Response to the 2014 Tornado.
“Life Can Be Hard”
First let me say, I feel like I’m standing before a battered army this morning. Some of you were in the thick of this terrible storm – you lost your homes, your businesses, your pets – everything you own. And even though we thankfully didn’t see deaths in our church family, some of you even saw your neighbors lose parents, children, siblings, classmates and students. This week some of us also saw our friends lay a precious young daughter to rest.
I’m so honored to say that many of you worked from daylight to dark this week to serve your neigh-bors in this community. Some of you ministered to the physical injuries right after the storm. Others helped them dig their belongings out of the rubble, you cut brush and hauled it away. Some of you donated money and supplies and others received and organized donations brought into our church in huge quantities – and you welcomed and assisted those walking wounded who came through our doors and tried to send them away with food, clothing, household supplies and the idea that Jesus and this church cared that they were hurting. Some of you rode on vans hundreds of miles over the course of the week, providing hot meals to those victims and relief workers that have flooded in to help us. You prayed with, cried with, worked with and ministered to so many this week. You were the hands and feet of Jesus to hundreds who needed His presence in this chaos. It’s been a hard week, but I’m so proud to know you as friends, brothers and sisters in Christ.
It has been a week of destruction, devastation and even death. A week which makes us ask the crucial question, Why? Why has this happen? Why do bad things happen? Especially, Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there a purpose in pain and suffering? I wish I could tell you that at the end of this message you will have the answers to all these questions. Some of the answers we will not have until we get to Heaven. But there is one ques-tion I hope to answer provide some answers to, today. That question is, “Is there purpose in our pain?
First, God Is Our Source Of Comfort. (1:3-5)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (4) who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (5) For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. (6) Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. (7) And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consol-ation.”
By any estimation 1 Corinthians 1:3-7 contains the Bible’s greatest single text on the subject of comfort. The word “comfort” in its noun and verb forms occurs no less than ten times here, which is essentially one-third of the thirty-one occurrences in the whole New Testament.
However, our modern use of the word “comfort” has robbed it of all its strength. To us, comfort means something soft, and soothing. But in the Bible, “comfort” is the translation of the word (parkaleo) which literally means “to call alongside to help.” It is the same word that Jesus used in John 14:6 to describe the Holy Spirit. Our English word comfort comes from a combination of two words which mean “with strength.” So to comfort; means to come along side someone and to give them your strength.
Paul knew what he was talking about for he reveals in (2 Cor 11:24-28), “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. (25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; (26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilder-ness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; (27) in weariness and toil, in sleep-lessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—(28) besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”
But Paul says that through it all he has learned that God is the one “who comforts us in all our trib-ulation.” In effect he is saying that he has learned that when he is sick, God is there by his bedside. When he runs out of money, God is there with him in his poverty. When he is hated and despised, God stands by his side. And even when he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, God is present and takes him by the hand and leads him through.