“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who 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. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 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. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Certainly the chief significance of Paul’s description of God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, is in the context of suffering for the name of Christ whom he preached unceasingly, as well as the similar suffering of the saints in the church at Corinth. There is, in these few verses, a picture of suffering for the name of Christ, the experiencing of the comfort that only God can bestow upon his children, and the sense of God’s sovereignty over even the ‘not so comfortable’ circumstances of suffering saints, in order that they (we) might be able to credibly minister to others in similar circumstances.
The Apostle Paul sees his afflictions and persecutions being for the express purpose of the comfort of other suffering saints, as he experiences the comfort of God and because of that experience, being able to comfort the believers in Corinth.
Can we not extend the cycle of suffering, finding comfort, and comforting others ‘with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God’, to the ordinary ‘stuff of life’ that we endure as believers in a fallen world? Personally, I think that Paul has delivered a serious blow to the thought (and sometimes taught) notion that as believers we somehow deserve ‘special’ treatment in this life.
In these verses, Paul does not specifically describe the impact of our going through all the ‘stuff of life’ on the unbelieving world around us, but it cannot be denied. As believers we are able to, and ought to, go through the adversities of life quite differently than even the most ‘positive’ of unbelievers with whom we live, work, and breathe. ‘How’ we go through the same adverse circumstances of life speaks volumes and is at times one of the greatest ‘wordless’ expressions of the gospel of grace we possess. Those wordless expressions are used of God as He arranges ‘divine appointments’ in which we have the great privilege of adding the ‘words’ of the Gospel, as God draws those for whom the Son died to the foot of the Cross, culminating in much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents!
So take heart, brothers and sisters, knowing that God is indeed sovereign over the affairs of our lives, both the good and not so good, and that God’s purposes in all of them will stand for eternity!
“So take heart, brothers and sisters, knowing that God is indeed sovereign over the affairs of our lives, both the good and not so good, and that God’s purposes in all of them will stand for eternity”
Thank you. I will.