When a cup is filled to overflowing, whatever spills over the edge is the same as what’s being poured in. That is a natural process that I can understand.
But here is a supernatural process beyond my understanding: If suffering is poured into a Christian, the Christian will overflow. But what spills over is different from what is poured in. Suffering goes in but comfort comes out.
This law of flow and overflow is expressed here in 2 Corinthians 1:5. The phrase “showers us” is from the word abound and means “To exist in abundance, to exceed a certain measure, to remain.” It is the same word used of the 12 baskets of food “left over” after Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people with 5 loaves and 2 fish (John 6:12-13).
Douglas Maurer, 15, of Creve Coeur, Missouri, had been feeling bad for several days. His temperature was ranging between 103 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally, his mother took him to the hospital in St. Louis. Douglas Maurer was diagnosed as having leukemia.
The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn’t sugarcoat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body would most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression.
His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who has leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said: “Douglas–I took your order. I work at Brix florist. I had leukemia when I was 7 years old. I’m 22 years old now. Good luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley.” His face lit up. He said, “Oh, how wonderful!”
It’s funny: Douglas Maurer was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was being treated by expert doctors and nurses with medical training totaling in the hundreds of years. But it was a sales clerk in a flower shop, a woman making $170 a week, who–by taking the time to care, and by being willing to go with what her heart told her to do–gave Douglas hope and the will to carry on.
When we experience tribulation for being a Christian, and suffering is poured into our lives, God will transform it by His supernatural grace and power. Another translation reads, “Just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also Christ our comfort overflows.”
God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. When trouble flows in, look to God for His overflowing comfort — first to us, then through us to others.