25 July 2019

2 Corinthians 1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.

What is the purpose of my suffering? This is a deep and somewhat uncomfortable question. It seeks to find meaning in suffering when, the reality is, most of the time we can’t find the answer. Even if we do come to some sort of idea, we wonder if we would ever have chosen such a path or why would God allow it to happen. But as Christians, we have a word of comfort from God in the midst of suffering, trial, and affliction.

God comforts us in our affliction. This is a promise from God, the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort. In the midst of suffering we can’t explain it with words, we can’t describe how God does it but we do experience it, like the embrace of a parent comforting a traumatised child. The assurance we have as children of God is that when we suffer He will comfort.

God’s comfort to us is so that we can comfort others. His comfort to us overflows to others. Our suffering can be a means of grace and comfort to others. In a sense, we can all comfort one another through difficult times whether we’ve suffered or not. But there is a comfort that comes from those who have suffered which is in one sense superior. To have someone with you who has endured and experienced your suffering is to have someone who understands, and someone who can point you to God’s grace.

In our suffering, we may not always know the why but we can know that comfort is at hand, and in it, we can comfort others. The supreme example is that of the God who comforts us, Christ Jesus, who understands our suffering because he endured the worst of suffering and so knows how to comfort us.

Prayer: God of all mercies and comfort, thank You that You comfort us in our time of need. Thank You that You embrace us, keep us, and protect us. May the peace and comfort You give us overflow to those around us, so that we may be a vessel of Your comfort. In Jesus name. Amen.