This morning I was told that the increasingly painful rash on my back & neck was a case of shingles. It’s only a bit of discomfort, but still unwelcome and a bother. Why this? Why now, I wonder. Perhaps re-reading that old blog post from my earliest days (11/30/05) would be profitable… Let me re-post it here for you too.
“Adversity is never a solitary visitor to the soul” writes Raymond Brown. “Paul believed that trouble enables discerning Christians to unearth hidden treasures,” he adds, with an eye to 2 Corinthians 1.
When a difficulty, opposition, illness, persecution or other such adversity appears on the doorstep of your life, it does not arrive alone, but comes with that ever-welcome friend: the Comfort of a gracious God.
But there’s a two-fold catch here:
(1) you need to be a Christian to be able to entertain both visitors at the same time, and, (2) you need to be a watchful, discerning Christian, to welcome this second guest.
• Christian: one who is, by faith, in a right relationship with his Creator God through the divine person and gracious work of Jesus Christ.
• discerning: the Christian who, knowing that God cares and is sovereign, looks for Him to “work all things together for good” [Romans 8:28].
• comfort: the manifest presence of the love and grace of God in the people, things or circumstances He sends to us. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 1:
3 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 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. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 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. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
If you are trusting Christ, seek the comforts promised you in the Bible whenever adversities coming knocking. Take it from Paul — God knows what He is doing on cloudy and on sunny days!
yours by divine mercy,