II Corinthians 1
Suffering in Christ is our comfort (verse 6), because in our suffering we learn to rely wholly on Christ (verse 9). This is so wrong by earthly standards. There is nothing worse than human suffering, as far as humanity can tell. This is certainly the hardest teaching I can think of. Who can accept suffering as a good thing? Who can accept the crying of children as a way to draw us to the LORD? God, have mercy on us that our suffering not last. God, have mercy on me that I can accept this, even though I can only see this world.
II Corinthians 2:1-11
What has happened that Paul feels so much pain about the Corinthians that he judges it better not to visit them? Such a strange relationship of love and unity, so loving that we can’t even get together because of the pain… ? But Paul knows that the breaking of the relationships is the work of the adversary, and he proclaims forgiveness without limit.
The brokenness of God’s people should cause us to mourn in prayer (verse 4).
Nehemiah prays in the space of a single breath during his conversation with the king (verses 5-6). His walk with God is intimate enough that he can communicate to God and be strengthened by the word in that instant. All the things that Ezra writes about, all the support from the kings of Persia, comes from this instantaneous prayer by Nehemiah — informed by his daily relationship with the LORD. Nehemiah trusts God to make the work prosper (and to prosper the people involved).
Build. The brothers and sisters to the left and the right of you depend on it. There is no time to criticize their work; focus on what is in front of you. Spur one another on, but expend all your effort in the actual work.
What a list of names to be counted among. “We built the wall and the temple and the city, staring into the eyes of our enemies, protected by our God.”
It took a great many laborers to repair and build Jerusalem.
And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
This is how we deal with sin, with threats, with enemies. Pray to our God, and set a guard. None of us should reduce our readiness; be on the alert (verse 23).
What incredible pull and influence Nehemiah has over the nobles, that he can expose their corruption and they meekly assent to his demands of restitution. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.