Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Paul’s Thanksgiving after Affliction
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4 who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ. 6 If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.
8 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again, 11 as you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our[b] behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Ever since I first met Paul through his letters, I’ve wondered at his life. What was it that kept him going through the imprisonments, the beatings, the five times he received the 39 lashes, the 3 times he was beaten with rods, the stoning, the shipwrecks, the robbers, danger from his own people, and, in his own words: “danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27) On top of all that, Paul had some terrible affliction that he called his “thorn in his flesh” and he prayed for the thorn to be taken from him, but he received a different answer: “My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Paul gives us a name for what we have seen growing among the thorns: grace. Grace. Paul uses the word all the time and it doesn’t just mean divine favor or forgiveness—it also means “power.” In fact, in most places where Paul uses the word, you could replace it with the word “power” and the passage would have the same meaning.
What Paul discovered was that God’s power is sufficient even for our greatest times of powerlessness. God’s power is enough for us even in the face of our greatest weaknesses.
Today’s reading begins the letter where Paul writes of all his hardships and of God’s grace that is sufficient for him. He writes that God consoles us in our afflictions and that we in turn can console one another. We experience God’s consoling through God’s presence and in a more tangible way we experience God’s consoling through the consolation of one another. For that reason, we have hope in the midst of our afflictions.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster