One Christmas When God’s Power Sustained Us in a Very Special WayDecember 10, 2017
Blessed be God… who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
I was a university freshman when my Grandmother Renner was hospitalized over the Christmas holiday with a heart condition and my wonderful Grandpa Renner — a man who had a strong impact on my life — was home alone for several weeks. Everyone in our family noticed that he had begun to act oddly during those weeks, but we simply attributed it to the medication he was taking for severe arthritis. He seemed to be thinking irrationally a lot, lost in the fog of his imagination while he was home alone and Grandma was in the hospital.
One day while I was home on holiday break, my father called me and said, “Grandpa doesn’t answer the phone, and he hasn’t been to the hospital to see Grandma today. She’s worried about him, and it’s not normal that no one has heard from him. Would you please meet me at your grandparents’ house so we can make sure that everything is all right?”
Without going into the details, I’ll tell you that everything was not all right. The house was locked, and since Grandpa was nowhere to be seen, we ventured into his beloved garage to see if he was doing something in there. It was there that we discovered that my grandpa had taken his life. I’ll never forget that moment, and the great grief that overwhelmed my father. However, in that moment, the Holy Spirit filled me with a tangible sense of His power so I could be a supernatural support to my father in that moment of intense grief and shock.
Dad stayed with Grandpa’s body and asked me to call our pastor. Within minutes, our pastor rang the doorbell to announce his arrival. Not long after that, medical workers arrived in an ambulance to examine my grandpa’s body and transport him to the morgue. As if that day had not already been difficult enough, Dad and I then had to go to the hospital to break the sorrowful news to Grandma. When we told her, she and Dad simply held each other and cried — a sight I shall never forget as long as I live.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
That next year, we all dreaded Christmas because we knew that it would remind us of the previous year’s tragedy, and we knew that we would feel the absence of Grandpa and potentially live through the pain of those emotions all over again.
However, God was with us in a mighty and faithful way that Christmas season. His grace was simply upon us — comforting us and helping us move forward with no great, crushing grief. It was truly miraculous to see how God worked to help us through what could have been a very difficult time.
When I think of that heart-wrenching moment, my thoughts go to Second Corinthians 1:3 and 4, where Paul wrote, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
In verse 3, Paul called God the Father of “mercies.” This is the Greek word oiktirmos, which describes compassion, lament, or sorrow. It tells us that God completely understands and identifies with the suffering soul. The word “comfort” is paraklesis, which describes the encouragement, consolation, and comfort that one provides to another who is undergoing bereavement, hardship, or suffering. It is encouragement in a time of desperate need. When these words are used together, they tell us that God Himself comes to the assistance of those who are suffering difficulty, whether physical or emotional.
In verse 4, Paul continued, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
The word “tribulation” in Greek is thlipsis, and it depicts a crushing pressure — far beyond what the normal human being could undergo or survive. It tells us that when Paul wrote these words, he was suffering immensely. But God “comforted” him — that is, God stood by Paul and gave him the strength he needed to go through the trial successfully. As a result, Paul was able to “…comfort them which are in any trouble.”
Perhaps there is nothing more powerful than a personal testimony, and Paul could testify that God had sustained him through a crushing period of his life. He had been “comforted by God” — God stepped forward to personally sustain and encourage Paul and assure him that he would make it through the end of his trial.
This is precisely what my family experienced when Grandpa Renner took his life. At the time, it felt crushing, debilitating, and so very painful. However, God stepped forward to personally strengthen us through that crushing ordeal. As a result, we are able to tell others that, regardless of what they might face or have to deal with in life, God will be with them and will sustain them to the end! He is the God of all comfort, and He is faithful to help us through each and every trial!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
God, I thank You that Your presence is constantly available when I go through hardship and trials. When it seems that emotions will overwhelm me, You are there — sustaining me and giving me the power I need to overcome each hardship. Just as you sustained the apostle Paul, you will sustain me — regardless of what I am facing in my life. You will step forward as my personal Helper to strengthen and assist me in my time of need. I am so thankful for this, and I praise You for it today!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ! On my own, I would suffer endless loss, but because Jesus lives BIG inside me, I have the power to overcome every single obstacle that I face in life. There may be some events that I thought I would never face, but God’s power has stood at my side and has strengthened me to make it to victory. God has ordained victory for my future. I latch hold of it and refuse to let go until I’ve experienced the total victory that Jesus Christ has planned for my life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- We all confront difficult situations in life. However, the power of God is present to sustain us and carry us to victory. Can you think of a moment that would have been devastating, but God’s power carried you to victory?
- Can you think of a time when you know that you would have crumbled if the Lord had not stood by and sustained you? What was that situation? How did the Lord help you? What did you learn about His goodness in the midst of it all?
- If you know someone who is going through a crushing experience right now, what would you encourage them to do? How would you exhort them to open up to the empowering presence of God to carry them through to victory?