2Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation. 8 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 11 as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Many years ago I was startled to hear someone quote 2 Corinthians 1:8 as follows “We do not want you ignorant brothers”. I soon discovered that this was what happened when punctuation is omitted from a sentence! That said, there are, sadly, some sections of the Christian church that seem to echo this sentiment. There are preachers who suggest that following Jesus will produce success, wisdom and wealth – and if someone is suffering, or is in financial trouble, or is depressed, then they are “ignorant” of Jesus. This passage from 1 Corinthians suggests otherwise: Paul writes of how he and his companions were “so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself” (vs 8). If Paul, the faithful Jesus-follower, has moments of suffering and despair, then any other Christian can admit to struggle in life.
Let us not judge a person weak because they are despairing of life. Let us rather give them courage for the road ahead.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
We are travellers on the road;
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
I will weep when you are weeping;
When you laugh I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
'Til we've seen this journey through.
The Servant Song - by: Richard Gillard
The Wounds and Sorrows of Ministry
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 136.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day