A Lenten Journey: Climbing to Calvary – Day THIRTY-FIVE

2 Corinthians 1:1-7, New Living Translation

   Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
   To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: 
   Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
   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. 
_______
Nine times. 

Nine times Paul uses some form of the word ‘comfort,’ both noun and verb. 

That’s a lotta times in seven short verses, don’t you think? Maybe, just maybe, this is an important idea. 

Maybe, just maybe, Paul knows that the church in Corinth – and the church anywhere, anytime – needs to see that word printed out a whole lotta times. 

And seeing it here reminds me of that verse in the Shepherd’s Psalm – “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me…” 

The same word – but used in a way that makes me stop for a minute. Stop and wonder if maybe some of the ideas in that psalm might be applied to Paul’s writing – and to our own lives. 

Most of us probably have a picture that springs to mind when we think of the word ‘comfort’: 

     a favorite spot/blanket/person;
     a particular kind of food;
     an activity that makes us feel better, inside and out;
     a word or phrase that stills and centers us;
     a hug – a pat on the back – a sympathetic face. 

But I’m guessing our go-to picture probably does not include a ‘rod’ or a ‘staff.’ 

So that got me thinking. Maybe I’m stuck in my oh-so-comfortable rut when it comes to understanding just what this whole idea means. Maybe there are ways to be comforted that I’ve never dreamed of or experienced. Or maybe I have experienced them – but in a way I did not immediately recognize as comfort. 

Maybe Paul is talking about things like: 

     a friend/spouse/mentor who can say to us, ‘enough’ – encouraging us to set a boundary/say ‘no’/stop for a while;
     a verse/book/poem/video/movie/song/blog post that catches our eye, our ear and then our heart, reminding us there is ‘more to life than increasing its speed;’ 
     a skilled listener, who can – just by sitting quietly and asking a careful question or two – help us to realize where we have taken a misstep and offer us the gentlest of course corrections. 

Because sometimes I think we get so caught up in our own spinning wheels that we lose touch with the truth that we NEED comfort, we need someone to truly see us, to help us step out of the dis-comfort we’re drowning in without realizing it. 

Sometimes we need the breath of the Spirit – often delivered to us through the presence of another human person – to blow fiercely enough to stop us in our tracks, to remind us that we’re creating a regular lifestyle addiction to overdoing everything. 

Because sometimes the ‘trouble’ we find ourselves in is the result of… 
     our own driven-ness, 
     our inability to know our yeses well enough to say ‘no’ when we need to, 
     our eternal need to be needed. 

Maybe that’s when we need the comfort of a rod and staff. Maybe that’s when we need a different way of experiencing the ‘comfort that abounds in Christ.’ 

_______ 

God of All Comfort, help us to keep our eyes open, our hearts pliable, our spirits willing to be comforted in exactly the way you desire us to be. And empower us, by the gracious breath of your Spirit, to be open to providing comfort – in all its permutations and colors – to others in need. For Jesus’ sake.
     




    

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Comments

  1. Thank you…yes, there is so much more to life than increasing its speed.

  2. Nine, huh? Yes, I really do think God needs to repeat himself frequently to make sure I’m hearing him. There’s so much here Diana (how are you continuing to think so deeply, having written your way through Lent?) Rod, staff, and comfort don’t seem to fit together. Yesterday my pastor was talking about God’s law being a delight which also doesn’t seem to make sense, unless I get rid of my wrong-headed ideas that God uses his law and his rod and his staff in arbitrary ways instead of out of love.

    Beautiful work, friend. Sorry I haven’t been keeping up as well as I’d like.

  3. The comfort I’ve been getting lately has been very rod-like. I’m ready for God to switch implements. Bring on the pillows! 

  4. HI I am new to Jen’s prayer circle glad to hear your moth is better. This was a really beautiful post. I am in a pit and I so need that comfort you spoke of. I love what you wrote for someone to trully see us. That is what we all long for to be seen and loved. So glad I stopped by to read. 

  5. pastordt says:

    John – thank you so very much for stopping by here and encouraging me today. That means a lot.

  6. pastordt says:

    Yeah, I get the beat-me-over-the-head-with-a-big-stick feeling sometimes, too! I’ve been struck many times by that strange phrasing in Psalm 23 – but it occurred to me that those implements are the very ones which help the sheep keep from getting lost or hurt or left in danger. And that actually began to sound sorta comforting to me, in an odd way.  And no apologies necessary! This daily thing was MY discipline – and if others come by, that’s a bonus. We’re all buried with things to do, blogs to read, posts to write – mixed in and around the concerns of our REAL lives, of course. :>) Have a blessed week, Nancy. And thanks for stopping by.

  7. pastordt says:

    I hear that, Megan. Praying for some pillows very soon for you, sweetie. Maybe you’ll find one in Ireland??

  8. pastordt says:

    Yes, and amen. We do long to be seen, really seen – acknowledged as a unique child of God with our own gifts to bring to the table. Thanks for stopping by – glad you found some encouragement in that pit. I’m very familiar with those pits. Thankfully, they do not last forever and they tend to make the non-pit times look even lovelier!