Pastor Chris White
“Blessed by 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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Cor. 1:3-4
At age 32, Ludwig von Beethoven was so deaf he could no longer perform in concert. As a virtuoso pianist, Beethoven was the ‘rock star’ of his day having both popular acclaim and financial rewards for his music. But deafness robbed him of more than a career. Ludwig von Beethoven was also a real people-person and enjoyed socializing and intellectual conversation. No longer able to hear most things, he felt it better to withdraw from society rather than ask people to shout things or constantly repeat them.
Despite the grief of losing the ability to perform or socialize, Beethoven made a choice to continue his work as a composer. Tempted to despair and suicide, Beethoven found solace in his art and wrote some of his best works after losing his hearing. In making a decision to persevere despite his personal suffering, he also made the world a richer place through his music. Some people say his condition could be cured or alleviated today with hearing aids or cochlear implants, but it begs the question: would we still have some of the great works we do if personal loss hadn’t forced him to stop performing? I don’t know the extent of Beethoven’s faith commitment, but I do see here an example for all of us on how to face suffering and loss in a Christian way.
First of all there is no sense in pretending that loss isn’t painful or real. We are not spared from sorrows or grief as believers, only hopelessness. Secondly, the suffering we encounter is only temporary and always purposeful. Just as the Father wouldn’t have sent His only Son Jesus to the cross if there was a better way, our afflictions are not without a purpose for our highest good.
We don’t usually struggle with that unless we are in the thick of things and then we question how this could possibly be good for us at all. The short answer to our question is we tend to confuse our personal happiness with God’s highest good and they generally are not one and the same. To quote another preacher, “We want pop-beads when God wants to give us pearls.”
Finally, we need to look and see where our lives and ministries can be maximized in our current reality rather than continually mourn what is forever lost. In 2 Corinthians chapter 1:3-7 (see above) Paul and Timothy tell of their afflictions but note that in them they found God’s comfort in great measure and found they were also able to minister in a greater way to all who were suffering and afflicted. In persevering in their suffering, their ministry was expanded in an unexpected way. Humbly submit to the pressures of the Master’s hand that you might become the vessel of honor He desires. The final result will always be something greater if we persevere in faith.