25 September 2012

The God of All Comfort

    For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus...(2 Corinthians 7:5-6 ESV)

Gracious Father, the incidental pictures in the Scriptures are often as profound as the intentional promises. The story of a conflicted Paul tasting fresh comfort through the care of a good friend is timely. You sent Titus to Paul as surely as you send the rain to the earth. Thank you, Father, for reminding us even your most faithful servants—those who know you the best, those whose grasp of the gospel is a zillion times better than mine—even these men and women experience restlessness, fear, and weariness.
     Why should we be surprised with we experience emotional depletion, spiritual weariness and physical exhaustion? Thank you that the gospel is not a story of supermen and superwomen, but of ordinary sinners, saved by grace, offering the aroma of the gospel through our brokenness, weakness and utter dependence upon the God who raises the dead.
     At times I still labor under the myth of omni-competence. If I just prayed enough, believed enough, or was filled with the Spirit enough, I would never get discouraged or downcast. What a groundless lie. What a horrible burden.
     Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us—you comfort us. You’re “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). Thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you’re quite capable of sending ravens and rainbows as gifts of comfort, more often than not, you send a Titus to a Paul, or a Phoebe to a Paul (Rom. 16:1). You love to tell your story through your people.
     Father, on this glorious fall morning, help us to be honest about our weakness, expectant of your comfort, and thankful (and receptive) for whomever you send. And make us sensitive to the needs of others around me. In our weakness we may be more good to them than when we feel “on top of our game.” Who needs a word of comfort from another weary traveler? Show us, Father. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ compassionate and comforting name. - Scotty Smith

I think this is a common state for many of us. Life gets us down and we put more pressure on ourselves to be "omni-competent." This prayer is worded so well and mirrors many of our feelings perfectly. So let us praise God as He ministers to us through Christian friends. Don't deny yourself the comfort He provides.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
(2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV)

Scotty Smith is Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

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