“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
At a recent church service in Nicaragua, we heard a testimony from a brother in Christ whose adult daughter had faced a serious medical crisis that nearly caused her death and did lead to the loss of her unborn child. It was heart rending to hear all that had transpired in their lives, yet it was so God honoring to hear of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of their sorrow. After the testimony, the Pastor asked me to pray for them. I did, but with a tortured mixture of broken Spanish and English, neither of which seemed to convey the seriousness of the moment. I was left with a sense of total inadequacy that eventually gave way to resolute assurance. Let me explain. No it is too much, let me sum up. Okay I’m sorry for the movie quote in a serious post but it just came out.
Inadequacy: here was a brother who had suffered greatly and I really just could not express what I wanted or needed to say. It was a reminder to me that I really need to continue to grow in my knowledge of and ability in Spanish. For those of you who are deeply merciful, don’t worry, I’m not beating myself up too bad. I am not a dismal failure, but I do need to keep growing. But in that moment I felt the weight of my inability to effectively minister.
Assurance: as I thought about it, I began to reminisce about being a Pastor in the USA. I remember so many times when I felt so completely inadequate to minister to folks in the midst of sorrow. I knew English, but I never thought I had the right words. I learned that that was okay. True comfort, that which touches the soul and brings healing and grows faith, comes from the Lord. HE is the father of mercy. HE is the God of comfort. Whether I have the right words or not, He, through His Word, speaks comfort and grace into the recesses of our souls. When we open up our Bibles and encounter the promises of God, He speaks comfort to us. When we open our Bibles and learn of His character, He speaks comfort to us. Ultimately it is God Himself, through His Word, who speaks peace, truth, and comfort to our souls. Blessed be His Name. It is that certainty of His sufficiency, couple with a complete dependence upon Him, that really makes us effective. You know, “in my weakness He is made strong.”
Quick note: the assurance of His presence and power is not an excuse for me to not pursue growth in ministry. I should never say, “well the real comfort comes from God so it doesn’t matter if I learn Spanish (or English) or visit or pray or whatever else. No. God calls us to faithfulness and it may well be that He will use us as the means of sharing His comforting promises. Please do not use God’s sufficiency as an excuse to be lazy. Please do trust God’s sufficiency to do what we could never do without Him. In other words, when I am able to sufficiently express in Spanish exactly what I want to say, I must still utterly rely upon the Lord and His Word to accomplish His work. You too! And we will ALWAYS find that he is sufficient, regardless of the need.
Thanks for reading, o faithful reader.