12 May Comfort – The Prayer for Suffering
Consider what the apostle Paul writes in 2 Cor 1:3-7. 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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
Paul faced unspeakable hardships, afflictions, and persecutions from within the Jews and outside. Wherever he went, he was received with antagonism and hostility. He had his more-than fair share of beatings, floggings, slander, malice and every other form of wickedness. Still, Paul’s constant prayer was not that he would be delivered but that he would be comforted.
There is a profound difference between deliverance from suffering and comfort in the midst of suffering. Our prayers usually are that we should be delivered from our suffering. But Paul’s prayer is that Christians should find comfort in suffering. God does not purge our character and make us holy by giving us a clean and easy life. His process of refinement is by taking us through the fire. This ties in neatly with what Jesus said in Jn 12:24-26, where He says that in death lies ultimate victory and the spread of God’s Kingdom. The preservation of life or quality of life is no longer a criteria for Christians to live by anymore.
Rather, it should be the opposite — suffering that leads to death. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.
How often have I prayed for myself that my trials be taken away! How often have I prayed for others that their difficulties be removed! This is the wrong prayer, and it is not from the Bible. We should allow things to happen. God gives His children afflictions according to the measure He chooses, and He also gives adequate grace. The right prayer for the Christian is not that he should be delivered from suffering but that he should find Christ’s comfort in suffering. This should be our prayer for others also.
About the Author
The author has been part of Bangalore EGF. He is married for five years, and works as a technical writer in an IT company.