This week, I’m reading Transforming Grace: A Study of 2 Corinthians, a short 42-day study by the Rev. Dr. Michael Thompson. He’ll be speaking at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, April 5 from 9am-11am. Will you join me at 8:30 for a cup of coffee and conversation before his talk? His book is available FREE here at this link.
Day 2 of Transforming Grace has us exploring Chapter 1:3-11, God’s Consolation. Rev. Thompson comments that Paul focuses in these verses on the great comfort and encouragement that God gives. That consolation in turn enables Paul and his companions who are consoled to comfort others who suffer. Ten times in five verses Paul uses words that translate, “to console” and “consolation”, but they also carry the idea of encouragement and strengthening. Paul expresses his confidence in God, establishes a common ground with his readers and encourages them to recognize that his sufferings are something that they are meant to share.
Rev. Thompson continues, “For the Christian, the comfort and strength God gives isn’t intended to be an end in itself; it issues in further comfort as the comforted become comforters. God’s grace in afflictions has a transforming effect; it touches lives in need with the result that they touch others. We want God to transform our circumstances; God is more interested in transforming us. Paul’s own suffering proved his apostleship and manifested the power of God.”
Even in my toughest times, I have been consoled by God. He was always there when I was abandoned by others, or when my carefully laid out plans went awry. I took solace in His love.
After a few years of basking in God’s never ending consolation and love, I became overwhelmed with His peace, and recognized that I could also console those who suffer, buoyed by the confidence that I have in His power.
Friends and strangers are diagnosed with cancer, or have another need for healing prayer. Sometimes it is listening to someone who is in a difficult relationship, or learns the finality of divorce. I want them to feel God’s consolation and transforming presence just as I have felt Him in my life.
There is a season for us to be consoled, and a season for us to console. In both, rest in God’s power.
(click below for MP3 file)