June 28, 2020
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Imagine if you will, that you found yourself walking on a gravel road in the wilderness, and you’re not really sure how you got there or why you’re there but you’re there none the less. All that you really know is that in your hand you have a letter that tells you that you have to stay on the road marked for you in order to make it home.
You have been walking on that road now for some time, walking day and night, in good weather and in bad weather, stopping only to rest and eat from time to time before getting back up and walking again just knowing that you have to travel on that road for however long until it takes you home.
All you have with you on this journey is a backpack with some supplies and that letter and the letter doesn’t tell you how long the road is, or how long it will take to get there, all it says it that there will be supplies for your journey along the way and to stay on the road.
Along the way you’ve had to fend off some wolves or bears, there’s been times that the rain has fallen so hard that you could barely make out the road ahead of you, there have been times that your feet ached from walking and when you stopped to rest you just wished the road would end, there have been times that you had just laid down on the side of the road and looked around you and said to yourself, “I think I’m done walking, I’m just going to stop right here” but in the end you get up and start walking again.But the road isn’t always bad, and actually along the way you have seen some beautiful things, you have stopped and watched baby deer playing and you have heard birds sing beautiful songs, along the way you have stopped and stared at magnificent waterfalls and closed your eyes to enjoy its roar and the spray of water on your face, and the dark of night hasn’t always been a bad thing because in a darkness you can see the heavens more clearly because there’s no other light around to bleach it out, and you realize for the first time that there is more stars in heaven than you ever knew.
So you continue to walk because the longer you walk the closer to home you feel you are and you can’t wait until you get there so that you can finally lay down your pack, take off your shoes and layback on the couch and rest in the comfort of home.
In one scenario of this story you walked alone for your whole journey without any company, but in another scenario wouldn’t it be nice if from time to time along the way your road merged with another road and when they merged there was another person who was following their road and just for a little while you walked together until your roads split apart again.
And while you were together you told each other of your journey, the things you have seen, the experiences you have had, and together you laughed and cried about some of the things that you have seen or endured along your roads. Sometimes the other person would give your back a rest and carry your pack as well as their own so that for just a little while you were burden free, and you did the same for them.
Along the way you compared packs and realized they had something you didn’t have and you had something they didn’t so you shared with each other those different things and when you were with them the road didn’t seem so bad or so lonely and there were times you even forgot about the way your feet and your back ached and maybe you even forgot about the journey itself and you just enjoyed each other’s company, until the road parted again and once again you traveled alone until another road merged with yours and you met another person and walked with them for a while.
Which scenario would you prefer, the one where you traveled the road alone or the second one where from time to time you merged with someone else’s road?
This is the story of our lives; this is the journey that we are on. We are all walking our roads until the day we make it home. Some peoples journeys last longer than others and some people have roads that have more up hills than down hills, some people have packs that seem to contain only bitter fruit while others have an abundance of sweets, but for the most part most people have a mixture of the two.
There are those in this world that even when their road merges with another they still choose to walk alone, never bothering to interact with the person whose road has merged with theirs, there are people whose road merges with yours that only add misery to your journey by various ways, there are some who you have to keep a wary eye on and keep a safe distance from, but for the most part the people you meet along the way are good company.
Soon, if you are willing to watch and learn, you can tell by the way they walk what kind of people they are before you even meet them. Some have an angry walk, some have a careless walk, some seem to walk as if they are in a hurry never taking the time to “stop and smell the roses”, some have a timid walk and you can tell they don’t want to interact, and then there are those who have a spring to their step and when you see that walk you know your journey is about to get a little more enjoyable.
Yes there are even those whose walk may fool you and they are not as they appear, sometimes they surprise you for the good and sometimes for the bad. But more than not, the way they walk tells you who they are.
The question I have for you is what does your walk say to others about you?
Do you walk through life with an angry step, does your walk seem labored, does your walk tell everyone who sees you coming to “get out of my way or I’ll walk right over you” or does your walk let others know that you are one of those people who will be a blessing along the way and not a curse?
There are all kinds of people who walk through this life and sooner or later your road will merge with every type of person out there, there are those who will take from your pack without giving from theirs, there are those who will try and talk you into traveling their road instead of yours, there are those who are wounded by the journey whose pack you might need to carry for a while who are unable to carry yours in return, and soon you will realize that this journey is not just about you but others as well.
At the beginning of this little scenario I said that the road you found yourself on was leading to your home, but everyone has a different idea about what home is, some people may hear the word “Home” and it brings up bad emotions, the last place they want to run to or travel to is home, for others they never really experienced a true “home” so they don’t know whether it’s a good place or a bad place, but for most people “Home” is a place of rest, a place of safety a place where love lives.
So in this journey of life you need to remember that not everyone thinks of home like you do, so it’s no wonder that they walk the way they walk.
Obviously the word “Home” that I am using for a Christian is a Metaphor for Heaven, it’s where we hope to be when our road reaches the end but not everyone walking through life knows where they are walking to, they may just be walking. not looking for home, but walking for when the road will end, it’s sad but true.
The opening scripture talks about sharing both sufferings and comfort, if you could use just two words to describe life, these would be the two words, comfort and suffering, because in life there is no gray area, you are either in a place of comfort, or you are in a place of suffering, yes there are degrees of both but it can all be whittled down to the base word comfort or suffering.
For a Christian the end of the journey is always at the back of our mind because it’s where we want to be, but those we meet along the way should always be in the forefront of our minds just as Christ had us in His.
Paul is telling those in Corinth that if he has suffered it is because Christ suffered, and did Christ suffer for himself or was His suffering for us? When suffer, as a Christian, we find that because Christ suffered for our benefit then we should take our suffering for the benefit of others, so that someday through our suffering we can bring comfort to someone else.
We have heard the phrase “in the world not of it” many times before in this church, it is a reflection of Christ prayer to God the Father in John 17:14-19 where he says “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.”
People that hear us say something like Paul is saying about suffering for others so that they may be comforted, is looked at by many people in this world as crazy, to them it’s like saying, “I think I will hit my fingers with a hammer so that I can tell other people how to deal with the pain of getting hit by a hammer”, to these people the idea that we should suffer for someone else is as alien a thought to them as the thought of being crucified for another. It’s ridiculous who would do that? Yes who indeed.
Our suffering is not always intended to help others through their suffering but sometimes we suffer so that they don’t have to, like a loved one who sacrificed their comfort so that a loved one will not go without, Christ suffered not just so that we could be reconciled to God but so that we didn’t have to suffer the cost of that reconciliation.
This message isn’t one of my multi point messages this message is a simple message, because sometimes truth is simple. Christ suffered for us because of what the world had become; we suffer because that world continues to exist, and will continue to exist until He comes again. Christ may not be here now but we are here in his place so what sufferings we suffer we should use to bring comfort to others whether that is sharing in that comfort with them, helping them to get through their sufferings because we survived ours, or bearing our sufferings so they may not have to bear that suffering themselves.
God is Love, and Love is willing to suffer because only Love can bear suffering.
So, watch the fashion in which you walk, seek others whose walk suggest they may need help in baring their pack, when your road merges with another’s be a blessing and not a curse, because in the end all roads either lead to one home or the other, we either follow a road to heaven or we follow the road to Hell, there is no other home besides these.
As a Christian I am reminding you of your walk today so that when suffering comes you will bear the sufferings of Christ in mind and do likewise in His place.
Considering what is taking place in our country today we must bare in mind the journey that others are walking, we must be patient, compassionate, and above all walk in a manner that Glorifies the Son and therefore the Father as well. Be slow to anger, do not return evil for evil, love your enemies and pray for them. Because ultimately this Journey will end and we will be standing at the door to our Fathers house.