Summary: Many of us would like a personal ministry, but we don’t know where to begin. This passage suggests that our personal ministry begins as we share with others what God has shared with us.
INTRO: In May 2008 Christian musician Steven Curtis Chapman's five year old daughter Maria was run over and killed on the family property. Her teen-aged brother did not see her playing in the driveway before she was struck. It was a tragedy of unspeakable sadness. I remember that my first thought was how could God allow this to happen to a couple who have done so much for the body of Christ? Steven Curtis Chapman released a CD (Beauty Will Rise) that chronicled his painful journey to reconcile this personal tragedy. It is raw, honest and powerful.and his title called "Jesus Will Meet You There". When you think you've hit the bottom and the bottom gives way and you fall into a darkness no words can explain and you don't know how you make it out alive Jesus will meet you there.
Why? The question rings across the centuries and through every generation. All of us ask it sooner or later. If you haven’t yet, you will. It’s a question that does not admit of an easy answer. In fact, the most godly believers have sometimes wondered about the ways of God. And if Job never got a complete answer, what can I expect? As I read the Bible, I don’t think there is one single answer to that question.
But there are answers. And men and women of faith have found them true throughout the centuries. One answer tucked away in the Bible may surprise you. It is found in a New Testament book we don’t read very much: Second Corinthians. In the first verses of the first chapter, we discover a perspective on the heartaches of life that may help us. After a brief greeting to his readers (vv. 1-2) in which Paul (along with Timothy) wishes grace and peace to his readers in Corinth and throughout the surrounding region, he immediately begins to talk about the comfort he had received in the midst of much hardship he had endured as an apostle of Jesus Christ. Verses 3-11 set the stage for the whole book by plainly saying that no matter what he had suffered, it was more than worth it.
Here we learn right up front an important principle for all of life. It’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s how we react that makes all the difference.
Years ago I READ THIS statement, “When hard times come, be a student, not a victim.” Think about that for a moment.
Be a student, not a victim. A victim says, “Why did this happen to me?”
A student says, “What can I learn from this?” A victim believes his hard times have come because God is trying to punish hm. A student understands that God allows hard times in order to help him grow. A victim believes God has abandoned him. A student sees God’s hand in everything, including the worst moments of life.
That’s the true Christian position. We believe so much in the sovereignty of God that when hard times come, we believe-no, we know!-that God is at work somehow, somewhere, in some way for our good and his glory. Paul says as much in Romans 8:28. As he begins this letter to the Corinthians, he spells out the same truth in a slightly different way. Here we discover how affliction works four positive benefits for us.
I. It Encourages and Draws Us Closer to the Lord. “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 have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." (vv. 3-5). There is a divine purpose at work in your life and in mine, and that divine purpose begins with God. Paul calls him the “Father of compassion.”
Notice what verse 4 says: “Who comforts us in all our troubles" (italics added). That means that when I am sick, he is there by my bedside. When I run out of money, he is there with me in my poverty. When I am hated and despised, he stands by my side. And when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, he takes me by the hand and he leads me on through. When I am sick, he is there by my bedside.
In adversity we usually want God to do a removing job when God wants to do an improving job. To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm.
We never discover the depth of God’s compassion until we get in a place where we need God’s compassion desperately. You don’t receive mercy until you are in real trouble.