I believe there are two basic human needs that every individual has…forgiveness and comfort. I also believe that only God can completely meet both of those needs. We all sin (Rom. 3:23), and so we all need God’s grace. We all suffer, and so we all need the peace that only God can provide (Phil. 4:6-7).
Every Christian needs encouragement at various times throughout this life. We suffer due to family problems, health concerns, natural disasters, spiritual weakness, emotional trials, problems at work, and even difficulties in the church. This is nothing new, for there were problems in the church even during biblical times. In the church of Christ at Corinth alone, we read of division, immorality, lawsuits between brethren, incorrect worship practices, abuse of miraculous gifts, lack of love for one another, and misunderstandings concerning the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the dead in the last day. Corinth, like most every congregation of God’s people, was filled with hurting people. This is why God inspired Paul to give them a lot of encouragement (2 Cor. 1:3-5). They needed to grow stronger and remain stronger and more faithful, and encouragement would do that.
There are people around you who are hurting. We live in a broken, fallen world; thus, no life is free from hardship (Job 5:7). However, what we see in life is not determined by our own vantage point…but rather how we view life. Sometimes the hardships of life beat us down, and it is during those time that we must need to be encouraged (2 Cor. 1:5; John 16:33; 1 Pet. 4:12-13).
Why rejoice when fiery trials come upon us, Peter? Because with those hardships come opportunities to receive God’s comfort. Yes, I know that we think that we can do it all ourselves, that we have convinced ourselves that we are invincible, that we think we are self-reliant, that we think that if we obtain enough wealth and possessions we do not have to depend on God, that if we can educate ourselves enough we can determine our own morals, laws, and guidelines so we have no need of the Bible, that if we can be busy enough with programs, plans, and activities, we will have no need of the church…but God knows differently (John 15:5; 2 Cor. 1:9).
Hardships have a way of bringing us to our knees and reminding us of our great need for God’s comfort (Heb. 12:7-11). So instead of running away from God during the hard times, let’s run TO him (Heb. 4:16; 1 Pet. 5:7).