Archive for March 17th, 2020

2 Corinthians 1:5b-6

In 1 Corinthians 1:5b-6 Paul continues to talk about the reality that we will experience suffering in life – it won’t always be a bed of roses – but here also he gives us the promise that “….so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” Jesus doesn’t leave us to deal with these things on our own. He’s right there, by our side, and will comfort us as we experience various trials. Not just some comfort, but abundant comfort. We can count on it: when we are in the midst of suffering, realize that Jesus’ consolation will be available for us. Jesus is there to bring comfort if we will receive it. But we need to do that – to accept His comfort during times of suffering.

God may allow situations in our life where our only consolation is found through Christ. People around us may not be able to provide any consolation in some situations. Sometimes we think the only consolation is found in a change of circumstances, but God wants to console us right in the midst of our difficult circumstances, and to do it through Christ. And it is also important that whatever suffering we may experience, it didn’t happen without God’s knowledge and it doesn’t happen without a clear purpose. Suffering always has a purpose and a plan – so we need to recognize it as such.

Suffering brings us closer to God and makes us rely more and more on God alone.  It makes us more effective as ministers of the gospel. As Paul experienced God’s comfort through his suffering he was able to bring consolation and salvation to God’s people even more effectively. “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” Paul can say they are the same sufferings because he recognizes that the exact circumstances of suffering are not as important as what God does and wants to do through the suffering. Christians should never get into a “competition” of comparing suffering. There is a sense in which we all share the same sufferings.

Guzik writes “Whenever we pray, “Lord, just use me. I just want to be used by You to touch the lives of others,” we do not realize that we pray a dangerous prayer. Through this good prayer, we invite God to bring suffering into our lives if that is the proper tool to make us more able to bring consolation and salvation to the lives of others.” The New Testament idea of suffering is broad and not easily limited to just one kind of trouble (like persecution). God did not work only through the suffering Paul endured. God also worked good things in others through the comfort Paul received from the Lord.

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