The things we go through as Christians are the same things that those who aren’t Christian go through.
Ecclesiastes 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.
God is the Father of mercies (compassion, forgiveness, help for distress or pain) and all comfort. That includes everything we go through. He comforts us so we can share that comfort with others.
II Corinthians 1:1-7 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ…and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God…at Corinth, with all the saints…Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God…the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth…And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation…
We all have disappointment but how we handle it shows if we’re taking God’s comfort. If we stay in discouragement, we’re rejecting God’s comfort. We suffer to be refined, to learn to endure, and to comfort others who suffer the same thing. When we’re comforted it doesn’t mean we’re comfortable, but we have grace to suffer with victory and peace in our heart. We’re comforted for another’s consolation and salvation. Paul had lots of trouble at Ephesus so he despaired of life.
II Corinthians 1:8 For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
There was a riot at a theater in Ephesus that was incited by the gold smith Demetrius. He made shrines for Diana and Paul’s preaching was causing people to be saved and not worship idols so his wealth was affected. The people in the riot chanted “great is Diana.” Paul’s friends told him not to go into the theater because he would have been killed by the mob. Things haven’t changed much in our day. When someone’s wealth is affected, they incite people to riot.
Acts 19:23-41 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For…Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; Whom he called together…and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that…this Paul…turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: So…our craft is in danger…also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised…And when they heard…they were full of wrath, and cried…Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus …they rushed with one accord into the theatre. And when Paul would have entered…the disciples suffered him not. And certain…of Asia, which were his friends, sent…that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another…part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude…Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence…But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about…two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And when the townclerk…said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not…the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana…Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet…do nothing rashly. For…these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen…have a matter against any man, the law is open…let them implead one another. But if ye enquire…shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question…he dismissed the assembly.
Paul suffered but he had peace and contentment in spite of the suffering.
II Corinthians 11:23-27 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters…of robbers…by mine own countrymen…by the heathen…in the city…in the wilderness…in the sea …among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness…in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Discouragement is a choice. If discouragement stays, it will bring friends along: fatigue, hopelessness, despair, self pity, depression, and doubt. Discouragement means we don’t believe what God says. He says to not fear, he won’t fail us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
When we’re in a trial, the devil says there’s no hope and the trial is getting worse. We have to choose to look to Christ and not at the trial. Edith Tolbert’s kidneys stopped working in 1968 before there was kidney dialysis. It meant a person would die within weeks. With four young children, she was worried they wouldn’t have a mother to care for them. She couldn’t see anyone to take her place. She realized she wasn’t being thankful in the trial and asked God to forgive her. Her kidneys hadn’t worked for four days but she felt the need to go to church on Sunday. A cot was set up for her and during the service, the pastor felt impressed to pray for her healing. She felt God’s touch and the next morning her kidneys started working.
The Israelites discouragement turned into murmuring and complaining, and then they hated the manna God provided.
Isaiah 43:1-5 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee…Fear not: for I have redeemed thee…thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee…when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned…I am the Lord…Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
If we’re getting comfort, we won’t be murmuring and complaining. We’re supposed to do all without murmuring (Philippians 2:14). It can be contagious and discouraging to you and others if you’re around those who always complain.
Numbers 32:6-9 And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart…of Israel from going over into the land which the Lord hath given them? Thus did your fathers, when I sent them…to see the land. For when they went…and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the Lord had given them.
If you don’t get God’s comfort, you’ll start murmuring and complaining about others and be ready to throw stones at them. Then you’ll start accusing God. The Israelites had a hard way but God was with them, showing them the way, and giving food for every day. He was good to them, but they became unthankful and then were unholy.
Deuteronomy 1:27-33 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven …Then I said…Dread not, neither be afraid…The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you…thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son…until ye came into this place. Yet…ye did not believe the Lord…Who went…to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go…
We choose whether we’re going to be discouraged, complaining, and unthankful, or if we believe God and are comforted.
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Many times God will just tell us to be still.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Sometimes we feel alone in a trial and have to encourage ourselves in the Lord. David prayed and asked God what to do.
I Samuel 30:1-6 And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag…that the Amalekites had invaded … Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire…David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives. Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep. And David’s two wives were taken captives…David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved…his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
(Notes from the Mature Class Bible Study, teacher Edith Tolbert)