2Co 1:3-7 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (4) 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. (5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. (6) 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. (7) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
The primary purpose of this blog is to expose evil and to encourage Christ’s true people in the midst of their sufferings. We focus primarily upon the evil of domestic abuse (particularly as it hides in the church), but there is always application for us in regard to suffering at the hands of other kinds of evildoers.
Why does the Lord, who is our Good Shepherd, permit suffering to come upon us? Why does He allow a wicked, conscienceless sociopath of a spouse to persecute his target with economic, social, psychological, physical, alienating and isolating tactics of abuse? There are no doubt more than one reason, and some of those reasons are given to us in the Bible.
You have this, for example:
2Th 1:5-8 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— (6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
See it? The Lord permits us to be in the fires to refine us, to purify and sanctify us, weeding out the chaff. He also allows this persecution from those who do not obey Him in order to, as we might say, fill up the cup of wrath which will be poured out upon them when Christ comes to judge the world. For the glory of His glorious justice.
In our current study of Revelation, we are at chapter 11 where the church is pictured as a temple, and as two witnesses. The church proclaims the gospel to the world and is persecuted and hated for it. The fundamental reason believers experience the suffering of persecution is because we are in a fallen, wicked world that hates Christ and all who follow Him. We have a mission, and that mission is warfare. We exist in this life in a battle zone where the enemy’s missiles are incoming.
But in the first Scripture quoted above, from 2 Corinthians, we see still another reason that the righteous are permitted to suffer. In our sufferings, we experience the comfort of Christ. (Remember, you must be born again. Just because you are or have been married to an abuser does not mean necessarily that you know Christ. We must examine ourselves to see if we really are in the faith). But Christ’s true people, in suffering, experience as Paul says, the comfort of the Lord. It is mystical and connected with the presence of the Holy Spirit in us who often takes the Word of God and opens our eyes to its truth, bringing inner comfort and peace to us as we rest in the certainty of His promises.
And there is more. As WE are comforted by the Lord, so then we are able to take that same comfort and share it with others who are suffering. You know this to be true. You know that it is primarily those who have experienced the same sufferings you are experiencing who can really understand and help. Others may aid us to a degree, but not to the extent that a fellow suffering brother or sister in Christ can.
And that is still another reason for this blog. To connect Christ’s people with one another so that we can share the comfort the Lord comforts us with, with others. The suffering is training in the school of comforting.
2Th 1:3-4 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (4) Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
I love that last sentence. “The suffering is the training in the school of comforting.” Experiencing such covert spiritual, emotional and financial abuse, finding people who have shared in that same suffering has been vital to my recovery. It’s like you’re both a healing balm to one another. It’s the good part….being able to say, “ I get it,” to another person whose story seems so hard to get.
Amen! Job said. The Lord Gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed is the name of the Lord! I pray that in the time that I experience tribulation that Lord will keep me by his strength.
I can attest to the fact that Christ was my comfort in the midst of suffering. After 16 years of marriage to an emotional/psychological, spiritual, abuser, I found out he was also cheating, addicted to porn, and was into very promiscuous homosexuality with questionably aged young men. I was terrified for my children and their safety for many reasons. There was no warning as to how bad it really was or ended up being, he wore a convincing mask for many years and fooled a lot of people. As my life was turned upside down, I remember the anxiety being so overwhelming at times, especially late at night when I needed sleep. I found out that if I would listen to praise and worship music and let go of this world and its worries, raise my hands in worship to Christ and focus on Him I could calm my anxiety and relax enough to fall asleep. I am not a big hand-raiser (I am an introvert through and through), but that precious time with the Lord is what literally saved my life. The deep worship changed something in me, in my walk with Him. I wouldn’t wish what I and my children went through on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t change anything about the process because I don’t know that I would have ever understood and felt God’s love and comfort the way I do now.
Thank you Wendy. You encourage us all very much.
Thank you for this…. If I may, let me add a new contextual spin that may resonate with a few. It was through the anguish of suffering that I have watched many a survivor move forward against all odds – and many a time it was another survivor who came along side them and carried them when they were too tired to carry on – in many a different way, too tired and worn to carry themselves.
I experienced being carried in a shelter, the one I fled to on that final night when I said enough was enough to the abuser – and on my way out was left with many a physical injury to remind me I had left an abuser – yes, those lovely employees at the shelter were there and let me cry and suffer excruciating anguish, and silently held me up as I regrouped and tried to make sense of what I had/was suffering at the hands of a (fake) Christian I had fled from. The employees at the shelter lived Christ in the flesh. I couldn’t figure out how they knew exactly what to do, and sometimes say…… I now know, a majority of them had suffered the same anguish as I was in, and probably more.
This is our gift now – we rise from the ashes of suffering – stronger and better for it, that IS how the Lord works- and we – in whatever way the Holy Spirit leads, will inspire us to carry someone…. we may never know them…. and sometimes it is in a silent unknown way…. we who have suffered will carry someone through their anguish in the future – we just may not know we did or who they were, but do trust the Lord will take our anguish, exchange it for good…. in his way. It’s the not knowing part that is sometimes puzzling, but also no longer matters, we just know he will never let our suffering be without his working it towards his, in every sense of the word, good.