Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from February 8 to 14 are co-written by the AMI Teaching Pastor Ryun Chang (Ph.D.) and Joshua Chang, a graduate of Swarthmore College and currently a student at Yale Divinity School. They are taking a break from the study of Acts.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 Corinthians 4:17-8
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
In the pit of “momentary affliction,” there is the struggle for meaning, answers, comfort, God; the darkness covers us. Jesus is the light, but sometimes, Jesus does not take away the pain—the cancer is still there, the job is still lost, our loved ones are still dead.
From the Scriptures, I can only cull, for now, some brief ways of how the Christian story, through the lens of unseen, can help us to find our way through suffering. First, don’t waste your suffering: even though we may never know the answer to why we have suffered, we can use it to still give glory to God, for example, by reflecting on how we can use the occasion to bring light to others. Bitterness can’t be an option. Second, trust that God is good and knows what He is doing: God is all-wise and perfectly holy; no one can understand why He allows all that He allows. Yet we trust that God does so for good and not evil. Third, we are not alone: Psalm 23 tells us this: we will suffer, but God is with us when we do. Finally, endure and hope: We endure our pain with God by our side: we pray to Him, we rely on Him, knowing that one day, it will all be over. There will be no pain, only the goodness of God.
I find it best here to close with the reflections of one who has suffered with Christ as his strength; the following is a passage by theologian Jack Deere and his thoughts on his and his wife’s ordeal regarding the suicide of their adult son: “God did not remove my pain. The death of my son was the darkest, hardest 10 years of my life. We retreated from the world. We lived in a cave. My son’s death was the door to that cave. We crept in further and further trying to escape the pain, the insanity of it all. The death of my son was also the door to a deeper walk with God…. Even if we retreat to a cave, Jesus will come and find us, get us and take us out of that cave to a party that will never end.”
Prayer: Father, I stand amazed at Your steadfast presence in my life. Of course, I don’t always feel that way since I walk by sight in response to the things that are seen, instead of by faith of the things that are unseen. God, remind and empower me to walk by faith based on Your eternal word and truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 40
Lunch Break Study
Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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.
Habakkuk 3:17-9: Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength.
Question to Consider
- In the morning devotional, we read that those who suffered can use their experience as a way to bring light to others. In what sense does 2 Cor. 1:3-4 support that view?
- God orchestrated the forthcoming disaster described by Prophet Habakkuk in response to the unrepentant Israel, by allowing the ruthless Babylonians to ransack Israel. The prophet protested (“The wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves”), but to avail. Now, re-read Habakkuk 3:17-9; what did the prophet learn about God through this?
- What are the situations in your life that are causing you to feel anxious, to worry and even to feel pain?
- It is always noble for someone to try to comfort those who are suffering, but that doesn’t mean the effort equals effectiveness. Apostle Paul states that the sufferers whom God comforted are uniquely enabled to help those who are presently suffering.
- I think Habakkuk finally realized and accepted what it means to worship a holy God— and unrepentance will not be tolerated. Instead of being appalled by that realization, the prophet rejoiced over this God who does so “for our own good, that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10).
- Identify them first and then bring those concerns before the Lord.
Before going to bed, meditate on Lamentations 3:22-4: “My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’”. May you rest tonight in this hope.