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Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 1:3-4’

Maxine's 1st bday 2015 016eOur three-year-old grandson discovered a whole new concept recently. He has come to believe that anyone or anything he doesn’t approve of might well disappear if he ‘magics’ them away! No doubt he saw this happen on some children’s TV show and has decided this might be quite a handy skill to acquire. So when some animals featured on a particular page of one of his favourite books do something naughty, what does he do?

‘I’m going to magic you away!’ he declares to them firmly, with a sweep of his hand.

For some reason, it doesn’t seem to deter him when those animals don’t actually disappear. He just keeps on trying. And not only on characters in books either.

One evening when we were minding him, he decided he wasn’t ready to go to sleep, despite the lateness of the hour. We had already read books and enjoyed a special treat—a big, juicy strawberry from the fridge. But one was definitely not enough—he wanted more.

‘Perhaps when Mummy comes home, you can ask her for some more,’ I stalled, hoping he would fall asleep long before then.

But our determined little grandson was not happy with my response.

‘I’m going to magic you away!’ he informed me, with a stern look and a very definite, commanding gesture.

But he still wasn’t finished.

And I’m going to magic Mummy right here!’ he announced with a flourish.

About two seconds later, we heard a sound at the front door—and there was Mummy, home from work! I laughed, knowing it was sheer coincidence. But our grandson’s face registered all sorts of emotions—shock, joy, pride, satisfaction … and yes, anticipation of more yummy strawberries to come. In fact, without even greeting his mother, he headed straight for that fridge to help himself!

This interesting experience later caused me to think about how I view God at times. How often have I prayed some frantic prayer, in the hope God will immediately step in and ‘magic’ away some disaster or difficult situation? How often have I felt I had the right to expect God to do this, even if I was responsible for bringing about the disaster or difficult situation? How often have I treated God as some sort of all-powerful magician, always ready to save the day and do exactly as I want?

Yes, God has often rescued me out of difficult situations. But God has also chosen to walk with me through them instead—and these have been the times I have grown the most. Then I learnt to rely on God more, became stronger, gained some wisdom and was equipped to empathise with others. I often did not appreciate it, but God was there through it all, holding me, helping me, comforting me, teaching me, as 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … 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.

No, God is not a big magician who is obliged to do what we say, making people we don’t like disappear or zapping us out of some tricky situation. God is soooo much more than that—don’t you agree?

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It’s probably safe to say that most of us try to avoid pain as much as we can. It’s not pleasant. It can restrict our activities. It can dull our enjoyment of life. And … well, it just hurts!

This week, a friend sent me a beautiful card. Inside, she had written how she hoped I would soon be rid of the severe lower back and leg pain I have had for several weeks and urged me to let her know if there was any way she could help me. I was moved by her kind words – and I knew she meant them. My friend is always very sensitive to the needs of others, often reaching out to help them in all sorts of ways.

One reason she does this, I suspect, is that she herself knows what pain is like. In recent years, she has experienced the death of two close family members. She is often in physical and emotional pain herself. And right now another family member has severe ongoing health issues. Naturally speaking, she would be the last person one would expect to have the physical and emotional resources to care so sacrificially for others. Yet from God’s perspective, she has exactly what it takes. To me, she epitomises Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

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.

Unlike my friend, I have not been faced with such terribly sad events and debilitating illnesses in my life. Yes, I have had back trouble and bad sciatica before, but these have eventually passed. Yet this time, the pain seems more severe and less like wanting to go away quickly. I am on medication. I use hot packs on my back. I do exercises and see my physio. I pray for healing and others do too. But still the pain persists.

So … what am I learning through it all? What good is God bringing out of this for me and hopefully others? I believe it has given me a small glimpse at least into what life must be like for those who suffer all the time from chronic physical pain. My heart now goes out to them so much more. I can see how this could colour their whole experience of life and cause them to feel somewhat alienated and removed from those around them. And I can appreciate much more what an effort it must be for them to participate in the normal, everyday activities we often take for granted.

It is too late now for me to empathise with my father, who himself suffered from extremely severe and chronic sciatica for as long as I can remember. And I believe I understand now at least one of the reasons he was often so short-tempered and withdrawn, unable to enjoy life to the full. But I can do better with others – it is not too late for that.

What lessons have you learnt through the hard things of life? Is God using your pain to bring comfort to others?

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