READ : 2 Corinthians 1:1-11
. . . the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction. (vv. 3-4)
All of us suffer. Maybe not all the time, but now and again, and sometimes with great severity. Perhaps you are a person “acquainted with the night.” Paul was. He was crushed and even despaired of life (v. 8). Still, he takes little time to describe his suffering. Instead, he speaks about “the God of all consolation.”
God’s comfort comes in various forms. Sometimes it comes as a cure. The cause of our agony is removed, and we dance in gratitude. Often God’s comfort in our suffering comes to us through the love of others. Another’s willingness to enter and share our pain moves us; we are strengthened. God’s love flows through them to us.
Such is precisely the comfort of the cross of Jesus. In a sermon Neal Plantinga once said: “We don’t look to the cross to get evil explained to us . . . No, we lift our eyes to the cross in order to see that God shares our lot and can therefore be trusted . . . The cross . . . tells us of a love so fierce that the Son of God is willing to walk down into the abyss to save us” (Exploring and Proclaiming the Apostles’ Creed, p. 76).
In that love, we find our consolation.
Gracious God, console the afflicted, strengthen the weary. Amen.