Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
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 receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Like the rest of the country, and indeed the rest of the world, we have shared together over many months in the problems caused by the pandemic. The extent of our difficulties will have varied from person to person and household to household, with some more isolated than others, some more vulnerable than others, some dealing with illness and others with grief. But to the extent that we have all been dealing with the same situation, there is comfort in the knowledge that we understand the problems that others have faced, and they understand ours.
In his missionary journeys, Paul had faced many problems and he drew comfort from the knowledge that God, through the sufferings of Christ, understood the sufferings that Paul faced. In that knowledge, Paul found the strength and courage, not only to carry on with the work that God had called him to, but also to comfort others who were also struggling.
I wonder how your faith has affected the way you have coped with the problems you have faced during the pandemic. Are you able to share anything of the comfort you have received with others you know who are struggling?
As we look to the future there is still an element of uncertainty. Indeed one thing we have learnt is that life is both uncertain and fragile.
But as Christians our future is not uncertain. Our hope, as Paul reminds us is firm. Not only is God with us, sharing in our sufferings and comforting us with his comfort, but he also offers us the promise of peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come.
So, can you join with Paul who, in spite of his sufferings, was able to start his letter the Christians in Corinth with these words, ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.’
Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, help me to comfort those who suffer with the comfort I have received from you. Amen
My Jesus, my Saviour