The book of 2 Corinthians starts with these beautiful words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (v. 3). We all know what comfort means, but do we know what God means by it? The sort of comfort that Paul is describing is something that supports us.
For example in verse 9, he notes: “…we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.” The process of strengthening steel helped me understand what God wants us to learn. When steel is being used to support a structure or other heavy object, the stronger it is, the more you will be able to trust it. To strengthen steel, you need to use a specific type of heating process known as hardening and tempering. This process can be hazardous. I’m not a steel worker, but I’ve known some who have told me just how hazardous it is!
My hope in sharing this is that we would look at our trials and difficulties differently. That we would see them as God’s way of strengthening us, as his way of developing a more Christ-like character in us. We are emptied just to be filled again. But to be faithful to this text, God tempers us so that we can support others better. The process brings great glory to God. One, because the person strengthened learns to love and trust God. And two, those who witness this strengthening process give praise and thanks to God. They see that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and they are emboldened to rely on God’s grace.