2 Corinthians 1

2 Corinthians 1 is Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  He begins this letter with a focus on suffering. He reminds the church that God “comforts us in all our affliction….so that….we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”.  God is our source of comfort when tough times happen.  Paul throws in those two little words that mean there is much more to the story – “so that”.  God allows us to go through suffering so we know how to comfort others who will experience the same things.  We often think we have it pretty bad – but we fail to have much perspective on the whole subject of suffering.  Paul knew what it really was – “we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too”.  Few of us in the US know what suffering really is all about. 

Paul did know along with those who were in his inner circle of ministry.  Check out what he says: “we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself….we felt that we had received the sentence of death”.  Have you been to the point in suffering where you were burdened to the point you wanted to die?  Why would God allow anyone to be pushed that far?  Why does all this suffering need to happen?  Paul gives us insight in the why here: “that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead…..He delivered us…..On him we have set our hope”.  We have to get past ourselves.  We have to be so totally spent that God alone is the only source of hope.  Have you been there?  Do you know that God is the only answer?

Paul reminds the church that they were to “help us by prayer”.  That is how we can bear each other burdens.  We need to become very focused on intercession and lifting one another up in the body through prayer.  Suffering will come – to all of us – but with that comes the opportunity to learn God’s strength and be involved through prayer and support.  Paul tells us that “the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you”.  As we go through the challenges of life – we have opportunity to experience the grave of God – in fact – “that you might have a second experience of grace”.  God wants us to experience Him in our lives. 

He alone is the source of overcoming.  “all the promises of God find their Yes in him” – that is Jesus Christ.  He is our victory.  He is the power to live God’s way. It is God Himself who “establishes us with you in Christ…..has anointed us……. put his seal on us……given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee…..stand firm in your faith”.  God doesn’t want us to suffer alone.  He has given us Jesus – anointed and sealed.  He has given us His Spirit so we can stand firm.  We are guaranteed of His faithfulness over and over in His Word.  So why do we go it alone?  Because we fail to come to Him when we face various trials.  They are for our own good as they test our faith and bring us toward maturity.  We don’t need to go it alone.  He has a plan for victory.  The only question is whether we allow Him to work in us!

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