by Rev Jason Phua
Bible Readings: 2 Corinthians 1:1-11; Proverbs 15:11
READ (Verses chosen for meditation)
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul’s understanding of God is that He has not come to take away our afflictions, but to bring comfort to the afflictions we are going through for His sake. Furthermore, as a Christian is afflicted, he or she does not only receive comfort; but is also blessed to be a blessing (in the form of comfort) to others who are in affliction. Such is the kingdom of God. God’s comfort to us in our afflictions is not meant to be “kept in”; but to be “given out” to those who are afflicted among us. What comfort have I received through my afflictions that is meant to be a blessing to others?
Henri Nouwen’s “The Wounded Healer” was one of the earliest books I read for the pastoral ministry. The main idea was that when we minister through what we have gone through ourselves, it can be powerful and effective. Nouwen’s idea makes a lot of sense because afflictions are often a very personal experience; even if such afflictions are committed to a large group of people. If it is a very personal experience, then those who had been through similar experiences can provide good empathy on the various sensitivities relating to such afflictions. So when God allow us to go through afflictions or call us to suffer with Him, it wasn’t just about helping us to grow in Him. It also means that through that “growth”, we are better able to be of help to others.
Unfortunately, the church of today seems to move in a different direction than what was prescribed by the Apostle Paul. This is a time where words are often loudly proclaimed but lives are superficially demonstrated. Perhaps, there were too much bitterness or betrayal that were left unresolved. Perhaps our way of discipleship has gone astray; that as disciples of the Servant King, we have chosen to hide in our own afflictions in exchange for the forms celebrated by this world.
Yet, 2 Corinthians speaks of a much different way of ministry; where weaknesses were boasted for the sake of God’s glory, where God’s power was made perfect in our weakness, all so that more lives can be laid bare for the Spirit’s mighty work. Paul was not interested in beautifying forms and styles of ministry; but on the transforming power and grace of the Gospel in this real world. So even at the risk of being afflicted even more, let us not hold back to proclaim of our afflictions, so that others might be comforted for His glory. Our Lord Jesus had done so and set for us the example; so what are we really waiting for?
Servant King, help us to have faith even in the proclamation of our weaknesses and afflictions. This is so that others might be comforted. We live in a world where deception is rampant and superficiality equipped as a form of avoidance. Help us therefore to be real with one another and be of real help to one another. Amen.