THE ABIDING LIFE
Celebrating the joy of God's blessings
By Gwen Sellers
Second Corinthians 1:3-7 has been a helpful passage for me. It says:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 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. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.This passage assures me that God is my comforter. It tells me that suffering has a purpose. It redeems some of the harder experiences of my life by reminding me that God not only uses them to draw me closer to Him, but to help others. Recently, though, I've read this passage from a different angle.
You see, in this season I'm experiencing the abundance of comfort. I'm experiencing flat out joy and utter amazement at what God has brought in my life. And it's a little strange. I'm used to the incremental joys, indicative of growth but tempered by the knowledge that there is still so far to go. Right now, though, I'm seeing a bountiful harvest. All those little incremental steps — the tiny little buds — are flowering. This is not to say that there are no windstorms or that I am not at times scorched by the sun. But there are times when I am completely enraptured by joy and can barely contain myself. In itself, that is not so strange. In fact, I would venture to say that is very healthy. Life is dynamic like that, and I now see the enticement of living life in an array of color rather than in black-and-white extremes.
But what is strange is sharing my praises with other people, especially those seeing only buds and not blossoms, or those not yet even seeing the buds but trusting that God is at work. There is a temptation to dilute my joy, to not let God's goodness in my life overflow but rather to contain it. Perhaps I think that since I have suffered alongside these others, bonded in the trenches so to speak, it is somehow wrong to speak of life on the mountain top. Perhaps I fear what life outside of the trenches looks like. I have tasted it and relish it and live in it fully at some points, but then I look back and think maybe the trench is safer so I am tempted to crawl back in. Perhaps I fear it's all too good to be true. Perhaps I am uncertain how to relate from a place of increased freedom rather than as a fellow prisoner. The problem with all these thoughts is they are founded in falsehood and unbelief. Is it God who provides safety, or the trench? Am I the one who comforts those who are suffering, or is it God? And when I see how He has brought about these current measures of healing and freedom in my own life, I see that it was, in fact, Him. My joy is not from changed circumstances, but from increased intimacy. It is not from conventional wisdom or positive thinking, but from God implanting His truth in my heart. This is important to remember when the winds blow and the sun burns. Even now, they do. Yesterday I was beside myself with rejoicing; today I am battling to remember the truth and asking God to remind me of the joys of freedom and to reassure me that He is my guardian and it is safe, if unfamiliar, to walk in this new pasture.
So what of sharing? My own memories of the unbridled joy of yesterday provide me with comfort and hope. But the fact that I shared my praises with others also means they can remind me. It was real — it is real — and they can attest to it. They can tell me that God really has done amazing things and remind me to keep walking with Him in freedom.
And the sharing isn't just for me. In fact, neither is the comfort. God's comfort for me has actually become comfort for others. These friends have shared in my suffering. They are invested in my life and therefore truly rejoice with me and for me (Romans 12:15). Their prayers for my life have been answered, and now they get to experience the joy of that. And for those waiting for blossoms in their own lives, they have been reminded that God does answer prayer and grow beautiful flowers. God's work in my life serves as a tangible picture for them that God is still at work; they can trust Him to bring blossoms in their lives. Yes, their blossoms will come in a different way and with different timing, but they rejoice in what God is doing. These friends can look up from the trenches and get a glimmer of God's majesty. I need not be shy in sharing praises because they want to praise, too. And, mostly, because God is worthy!
I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
*I would highly encourage you to read all of Psalm 145
Image Credit: Philippe Put; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Personal-Life | Personal-Relationships
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Published on 6-18-2014