The topic of the first part of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is suffering, and I was so blessed to spend a little time in it recently. The Corinthians had been suffering and Paul wrote to bring encouragement and a bit of teaching about suffering. And that’s a lesson we all need some times.

This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece.
2 Corinthians 1:1 (NLT)

God has chosen us – some to be apostles, some to be evangelists, some to be teachers – but all to be His sons and daughters and joint heirs with Christ. And although He has chosen us, He also gives us the opportunity to choose Him. He doesn’t force His will upon us, but allows us to choose. Scripture is clear that it is not God’s desire that anyone die without first choosing to make Jesus their Savior, but He allows it. Because love doesn’t force one’s will on another. Love is giving, not controlling. John 3:16 tells us how much God gave –

16For God so loved the world , that he gave his only begotten Son , that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:16-17 (KJV)

We have all been chosen by God’s will. Paul says he was chosen to be an apostle. You may not be an apostle, but you have been chosen by God’s will to have a relationship with Him and you’ve been chosen to serve Him.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3 (NLT)

In verse 3 we begin to get to the meat of Paul’s letter and although he is going to address suffering, He begins with praise, setting the example to us. When we face suffering of any kind, making praise our starting place changes our focus and enables us to see the goodness of God. It also opens the door for God’s presence to walk with us through the suffering.

Paul quickly gets to the point, though and tells the Corinthians that God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. Do you need comforting? Go to God – because He is the source. When we are comforting a friend, the best thing we can do for them is help them turn to God – the best thing we can do is take them to the source of all comfort. Because any comfort you or I can offer is a pale comparison to God’s comfort.

I love verse 4 – it tells us that our suffering has purpose – that it isn’t useless and we’re not useless when we suffer….

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

First, notice the word “all” – He comforts us in all our troubles. Not just some of them. I can take all my troubles to Him and He will comfort me.

He doesn’t just comfort me for my benefit – although that’s wonderful. He comforts me so that I can comfort others. That tells me that my suffering has purpose. When we’re suffering, it can be very tempting to ask “Why me?” Paul gives the answer to that question. My suffering and receiving God’s comfort will enable me to comfort others who suffer.

Don’t waste your suffering, friends. Don’t waste your sorrows – use them as an opportunity to receive comfort from God and then pray for opportunities to share that comfort with others. People around us need to hear about the comfort God can give when they are suffering.

For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:5 (NLT)

Paul turns to encouragement here. Having just said that our suffering has purpose – that is, so we can comfort others, it’s almost as if he takes a step back and remembers how hard it is to suffer, so he encourages the Corinthians – the more we suffer, the more God showers us with His comfort. What word is used? Showered – the more we suffer, the more God will shower us with His comfort.

When I was a kid and we’d have a bad storm, mom would say it’s raining cats and dogs. In the Kingdom of God, when we suffer, we can say it’s raining God’s comfort, and the more we suffer, the harder it rains God’s comfort.

Paul then makes his writings more personal. He writes about his own troubles:

6Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 (NLT)

Paul shares that even when he and his missionary team were weighed down with troubles, it was for the Corinthians – so that they could comfort the Corinthians and bring salvation to them.

Then he encourages them that again, telling them again that he is confident – confident – that word is important – Paul is confident that the Corinthians will also share in the comfort God was giving him and his team.

The word translated “confident” here is translated “steadfast hope” in the King James Version. I love that translation. Paul had a steadfast hope – a steady, secure hope in Christ that just as God was comforting him, He would comfort those who were suffering with him.

What a wonderful example to us of how to comfort others. God comforts us when we are struggling so that we can say to them “I have a steadfast confidence that just as God comforted me, He will comfort you.”


But Paul seems to think they should know a bit more about the suffering he experienced. Sometimes it helps others to understand our suffering because it reinforces to them that God can meet their needs. If He met my needs when I was in this desperate situation – if He came to my rescue – He will come to yours. So let’s read about Paul’s situation:

8We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. 9In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NLT)

Wow! Paul again is giving a purpose to our suffering. What an important lesson is in these verses. Paul is saying that sometimes God allows our suffering to continue beyond what we think we can endure…so that we stop relying on ourselves and learn to rely only on God.

That’s the way God wants us to live – relying on Him, trusting Him for each breath we take. And the truth is that when things are going well…it’s easy to believe that we have everything under control and pretty soon we begin to rely on our own abilities or our own money or our own position in life. God wants us to rely on Him. And when we stray too far from that, in His mercy, He allows us to suffer so that we return to Him.

Paul doesn’t dwell on the point because he ends the passage the way he started it – with a focus on praising God, not on his troubles:

And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.
2 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)

Paul says “God came through!” God did rescue us! And not only that! He will rescue us again! We have placed our confidence in Him and He will rescue us!

That is the best place to be, friends – placing our confidence in Him, knowing that He will rescue us. Trusting God, relying on Him not only for our daily needs, but for our eternal need – for salvation. Trust Christ, put your confidence in Him and He will rescue you. In this life and for eternity.

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