Big Idea: When we are weak, we can be assured of God’s comfort.
Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth-century mathematician, physician, theologian, and one of the brightest minds in history, wrote: “What a chimera, then, is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth; depositary of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error; the pride and refuse of the universe!” He echoed well the theme of 2 Corinthians. It is the book of tensions, that at times seem like contradictions. Human beings are made in the image of God, yet made of dust. We are oh-so-profoundly weak.
Why has God allowed us to be so fragile if we are to be His vessels? Paul was no stranger to it. They had faced the sentence of death and unthinkably immense suffering. Why would God let them get to the brink? Paul says that God brought them to the brink of death, stripped away all of their resources, and shattered their self-reliance so that they could learn to trust in the God who raises the dead. In their greatest weakness was the greatest glory.
One of the great mysteries of the Bible is that it is better to be hurt and be comforted by God than to never hurt at all. Our despair is our greatest hope. The pain of a broken heart is the guarantee of the comforting arms of God. But even that is not the sole purpose. God comforts us so that we can comfort others, where His love flows through us and into others. That is the greatest glory of humanity; we are broken vessels, restored by God, and then used by God to restore others. Our heartache is the down payment on joining with God in the greatest honor we could ever enjoy. “The pride and refuse of the universe,” Pascal wrote so wisely. But what a Savior, who does not just heal us from our weakness. He transforms it into strength.
Discussion Idea: In what ways could it be true that being comforted by God after pain is better than never hurting at all? Why does God use us to comfort others?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God would show you how to recognize the ways He has comforted you and pass it to others.
 Blaise Pascal, The Provincial Letters; Pensées; Scientific Treatises, ed. Mortimer J. Adler and Robert McHenry, trans. W. F. Trotter, Second Edition, vol. 30, Great Books of the Western World (Chicago; Auckland; London; Madrid; Manila; Paris; Rome; Seoul; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1990), 249.