Jan Smith – 01/22/2008
My bible is filled with notes I’ve written in the margins, in the white space between paragraphs and in those blank spaces at the end of a chapter. I’ve been writing those notes for many years.
Most of the notes are not dated, so I don’t know exactly when I wrote them. Early last year (2007) I began adding the date. I like knowing when it was I wrote something.
Despite their lack of dates, the notes are still helpful to me. Some came from Bible teaching I was listening to at the time. I’d like to post some of those insights here, in the hope that the wisdom from the mind of God will be a blessing to others.
Here’s the first such post. This comes from chapter 1 of Paul’s 1st letter to the church at Corinth. The text of the passage is as follows:
3 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. 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead; 10 he delivered us from so deadly a peril, and he will deliver us; on him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.
From the notes in my Bible (the words in bold type below), here are three applications. (I’m not the author of these. They probably came from a teaching by Chuck Swindoll.)
The benefits of Suffering
- So we can comfort others – look at verse 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”.
Just think how comforting it is to you, as you go through a tough time, when someone who has been through it comforts you.
- So that we won’t trust in ourselves – That’s what we’d normally do, right? We think we’re in charge. But look at what verse 9 says: “Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” Do you see that? God maneuvers us into perilous situations — things we could not possibly handle by ourselves — so that we will turn to Him for help.
- So that we might learn to give thanks in everything – verse 11 says “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us in answer to many prayers.“
Can you see the principles now? This is an example of wisdom from the Mind of God, but most of us have to have these truths explained to us in order for us to see them.
Below that list I had written another list of three things that this passage calls us to do (again, the notes from my Bible are the parts in bold):
- Instead of focusing on yourself now, try to think of the comfort you will provide to others later.
- Rather than fighting – surrender – release.
- Even though “getting even” seems to make better sense, try giving thanks
There’s nothing difficult to understand here. For years I’ve realized that focusing on God instead of on the problem is the way out from under any problem. That’s one reason I start each day by reading the Bible (see my blog entry for 01/20). I’ve also formed a habit of praising God for things throughout the day. Whenever I get into my car, I praise Him for it. (Nobody else would; if you saw what I drive you’d see why.) I find that the more I do that, the more it becomes my normal way of responding to things.
Giving your problems to God really works. What a pity so many others don’t know that, or don’t believe it.