Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Talking about the presence of God with us in the midst of our suffering or hardship can be a tricky thing. Stuff happens. Hardship comes. People suffer and they want to know why or who to blame. Why is this happening? Why doesn’t God step in and stop all this? Is God causing this? Why?

Truthfully, I don’t have a good answer. I know that some of what happens is the result of the choices we or others make… but not all. Sometimes things just happen. I don’t know why, and I’m immediately skeptical of anyone who says otherwise. I’m especially skeptical of those who lead with, “God has a reason for everything.” The one thing I know for certain that God doesn’t cause hardship in the lives of the people he loves to make a point. God is not the source of our suffering. In fact God is quite the opposite.

They are building a new store near the church I serve and it is an interesting process to watch as it all comes together. The four exterior walls are built from cement blocks, but until the roof is on and the permanent supports are in place the walls are being held up by big exterior support poles. Take them away right now and the whole building will crumble, but once the trusses and the roof are in place the walls will be sturdy enough to stand up through all the elements… even providing shelter from those things for the people inside. Right now, however, the walls have to rely on the external supports to endure.

I don’t know why bad things happen. I don’t know why people suffer. I do know, however, that God understands our suffering because he joins with us in it. Instead of snapping his fingers and fixing everything, God chooses to accompany us in our hardship. God doesn’t cause our pain. Instead, he hurts with us. God, however, has the patience and strength to endure what we cannot. So, he doesn’t leave us alone to crumble under the weight of our own struggles. God feels our pain, but can bear the load… and he does. Eventually we might even be strong enough to provide comfort and shelter for those whose struggles are similar to our own. But in the midst of our pain we need God with us lest we crumble under the weight of it all.

Whatever is weighing you down, find comfort in these words from Paul who suffered much.

Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. (2 Corinthians 1:6, 7 NLT)

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