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To Grow in Courage and Character

 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. 

 When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you're just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you're going to make it, no doubt about it. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6, The Message)

By Belinda

It leaped out at me from the page as I read the first sentences Paul wrote in his second letter to the church in Corinth nearly 2000 years ago. Everything: every breath; every action; every experience lived; all of it served only one purpose for him. He wanted all of it to be used up for the cause of Christ.

As if piecing together scraps of fabric; some dark, rich, shadowy velvet, others bright, smooth satin,all telling a story; he sews a colourful patchwork quilt. Then he flings it out to comfort and warm the believers of his day, and ours with courage.

All of his life was an object lesson for his one passion--to communicate the good news that Jesus Christ was God come to this world in the flesh. He wanted to bring it home; down to earth; demonstrate what that meant.

I read on to verses 8 & 9:
We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead!..... (2 Corinthians 1:8-9, The Message)
It made me think again of the TV mini series Paul and I have been watching: Band of Brothersthe story of the paradoxically named "Easy Company" of the US Army 101st Airborne division. In one episode; in they try to hold the line around Bastogne against attacking German forces, in bitter cold conditions; with no winter clothing; insufficient food and ammunition during the Battle of the Bulge.The epilogue states that history tells of  General George S. Patton breaking through to rescue them. It adds however, that no member of Easy Company will ever agree that they needed to be rescued.

That kind of character; that steel; is forged only under fire.

Should fire come to any one of us, I pray that we would face it with the kind of courage these soldiers lived out. May we look to God alone, not for "rescue" but for strength; endurance and trust.

And may every breath we breathe be to honour him in our hearts, and to show a watching world what can happen when someone places their hand in his and dares to believe.

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