Summary: Paul, Pt. 9
THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT (2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-6)
Everything that could go wrong went wrong for Will Smith’s character in “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He invested his money into buying and selling bone-density scanners. One of his $250 scanners was stolen by a hippie and another by a lunatic. The lack of income took a toll on his family and his frustrated wife left him on account of his chaotic life, including collecting unnecessary parking tickets, for which he arrested. At about the same time he also bumped into a kind man who paved the way for him to have an opportunity to be a broker, only if he could beat 19 others to the job in an internship. The supervisor at the internship used him for an office boy and even the CEO stiffed him for taxi money in an emergency.
A series of unfortunate events left him and his five-year-old son homeless. When he sold all his scanners the IRS impounded his money for unpaid taxes. He was thrown out of his apartment. They slept overnight in a train station restroom one night when they ran out of money. Every day before 5 pm he lined up with his son at a shelter that would take in limited people, sometimes missing the cut. When he finally recovered his last scanner from the crazy man, it did not work, so he had to donate blood to earn $20 something to replace a default part. Through hard work and determination he succeeded beyond his dreams and was made a broker. At night in the shelter he diligently studied for his broker exam. When he could not convince a big client to give him a chance, he worked hard on other clients.
The best scene was when he was at a chapel service in the shelter, listening to an inspiring song from the choir:
“Lord don’t move that mountain,
Give me the strength to climb it.
Please don’t move that stumbling block,
But lead me Lord around it.”
Have you been mad at God for something that went wrong? A world crisis, a family crisis or an office crisis? In a national survey conducted by George Barna, a cross section of adults were asked: “If you could ask God only one question and you knew He would give you an answer. What would you ask?” The number one answer by 17% of respondents was; “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” Augustine put it this way: “If there is no God, why is there so much good? If there is a God, why is there so much evil?”
What part does suffering play in our life? How does one outlast tragedy, pain and even loss? Why is suffering possibly a friend and not a foe?
You’ve Got to Be Positive, Not Pessimistic
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, (2 Cor 1:3-4)
In the early 1980’s, Dr. Salvatore R. Maddi, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, and the author of a forthcoming book, “Resilience at Work,” followed hundreds of employees at Illinois Bell when its parent company, AT&T, was facing federal deregulation. More than 10,000 people eventually lost their jobs. “There was suicide, depression, anxiety disorders, divorces, heart attacks, strokes - all the things that could be attributed to massive stress,” Dr. Maddi said.
But while about two-thirds of the workers in Dr. Maddi’s sample unraveled, the other third thrived. They survived the incident with their health intact and hung onto their jobs or moved to another company where they quickly climbed up the ranks. When the researchers went back and reviewed their first set of interviews, they found that many of the people who made it through unscathed had stressful family backgrounds - constant moving, their parents getting divorced - and were more likely to describe change as inevitable. “Some of the people who cracked had initially taken a job with Bell rather than I.B.M. because they believed it was safe and didn’t want any disruption,” Dr. Maddi said.
Christians do not merely have light at the end of the tunnel; they have light inside and outside the tunnel. There is nothing more encouraging and enduring than to know that our God is the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (v 3). Compassion refers to His nature and comfort is the action. This compassion word has nothing to do with the two more popular words on compassion – bowels and sumpatheo, the former describing describe movement and the latter empathy; compassion/mercy has to do God’s relationship to man. The Old Testament equivalent of this word (compare Rom 9:15 and Ex 33:19) is used of a father’s compassion on his children (Ps 103:13, Mal 3:17) and a mother’s compassion on the child she has borne (Isa 49:15). The object of God’s compassion in the Bible are His servants (Deut 32:36, Ps 135:14), all He has made (Ps 145:9), Jacob (Isa 14:1) and His afflicted ones (Isa 49:13). God knows the fear, the fight and the fire in us.