For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (2 Corinthians 1:5 ESV)
As I reread today’s chapter I was reminded of the story of Paul’s shipwreck in Acts 27. We have glamorized this story so that we can tell it to children in Sunday School. I have been overwhelmed by an ocean wave and there was nothing glamorous about the experience. However, to appreciate the story and the relevance to the concept of suffering you have to get out a map. It is 5177 miles between Crete and Malta. This means that to travel that distance the ship had to make 15 miles per hour progress every hour over 14 days. The ship was out of control, so it is very unlikely that it moved in a straight line. I struggle to deal with moments when my situation feels out of control. I can’t imagine enduring raging winds and constant random motion for 14 days.
The Bible has much to say about suffering. We have returned to our house in Santa Rosa and we are very grateful we have a house. If we don’t step outside, we can pretend that nothing has happened. Once we step outside our door we are confronted with the destruction that occurred during the recent fires. We took our regular neighborhood walk on Thursday morning. We walked through multiple blocks of destroyed houses and burned out cars. The destruction is overwhelming. For my wife it was much more personal. She has been walking this neighborhood for years and these aren’t just houses. I was amazed at the number of people she could name as we walked. It was a distressing day.
Life will never be the same for those who have lost their houses, nor for us whose houses have survived. Now we have a choice. I hope we will lean into the God who loves us, who is in us, and who surrounds us. We have hope. We look forward to the opportunity to help and comfort our neighbors who did lose their house. I hope and pray that those of us who follow Jesus will lean into him with hope and gratitude to model a different way to those who are suffering and struggling.
I can’t answer the why question related to the fire any more than I can answer it for my grandson whose best friend’s parents are divorcing and moving away. What I will not do is give up believing that God is good and that he is working for my good through all of this.
Suffering drives us into the heart of God because this is what is in God’s heart—his suffering, still-scarred Son (Rev. 5:6). But thanks be to God, who causes the comfort of Christ to abound in our hearts as well (2 Cor. 1:5). … suffering is the extraordinary means God has provided for us to move toward communion with him. – Union with Christ by Rankin Wilbourne