Love Forward

2 Corinthians 1
From My Devotion

Today is one of those devotions that worries you.  I read in blog post this morning that, “The trials of today remind us that our God has promised to one day make all things new.”  As I sat down to write this post, NEEDTOBREATHE began singing, “If you’re lost and lonely, you’re broken down, bring all of your troubles, come lay ‘em down.”  In my devotion I read from Job and 2 Corinthians 1.  Is God preparing for something terrible??  :)  If so, He is Big Enough to sustain me.

The passage in 2 Corinthians is really beautiful, and it is an interesting way to begin a letter.  Many times in the introduction to an epistle, Paul will give glory to God and establish his authority or apostleship.  In 2 Corinthians, he takes a different route in order to accomplish these goals.  In verse 3, begins a sequential set of truths regarding God.

1. God is the source of all comfort (verse 3) 
2. He comforts us so that we can comfort others (vs. 4)  
3.  We give the same comfort to others as God gives to us (vs. 4)
4.  As our suffering increases, so does His comfort (vs. 5)
5.  As we comfort others, we patiently endure

This stands in direct contrast to what we find in the book of Job.  This man’s very name is synonymous with suffering and hardship.  God in His sovereignty allows Job to face adversity for the sake of His glory.  It is a deeper message and one that stands in stark contrast to any sort of prosperity Gospel.  It forces us to acknowledge that Jesus never promises that things will be A-OK.  He promises that when you give your life to God, you get JESUS…and Jesus is enough.

2 Corinthians show us what to do with that “enough.”  None of us are blessed in a vacuum.  Every blessing we receive (even hardships) are something we are expected to steward.  The Lord gives us his love, comfort, and healing so that we can be better agents of his love, comfort, and healing.  That’s why the church is so powerful - why Gospel-centered community is so essential.  The church is not filled with perfect unscathed people.  Rather, the church is filled with people who have been beat up and bruised.  Those people truly know how to love forward.

Job’s friends knew a lot of the right truth.  The things they said, pulled out of context, could have been easily uttered by a righteous prophet.  The knew the right things, but they loved the wrong way.  They had no idea or inclination toward mercy, compassion, or empathy.  In the end, they were condemned.

Suffering conditions our heart.  It brings us to the end of ourselves and forces us to rely upon a God that loves us.  Such a beautiful paradox exists.  Suffering causes us to lean further from this world and closer to eternity.  In that regard, suffering pushes us closer to heaven.

2 Corinthians 1:8b-9  :  We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9 In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.

Aaron is the pastor of Spring of Life, a new church in Portland, Oregon. He's the owner of Amplify Creative.