Job 20:1-21:21; 2 Corinthians 1:1-7; Psalms 40:14-17; Proverbs 13:15-16
NT: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, 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 that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 CSB)
Paul’s previous letter to the Corinthian church, written to address some problems in the church, was not as effective as Paul had hoped. As things grew worse, Paul had to make a “painful visit” to Corinth to confront the troublemakers, and then send a follow-up “severe letter” through his associate Titus. After Paul’s confrontational visit and strongly worded letter, the primary issues in Corinth were resolved. It was after Paul received the good report that 2 Corinthians was written. The entire ordeal had brought much discomfort, frustration and suffering to both Paul and the faithful brethren in the Corinthian church. It is no wonder then, that Paul used this letter to bring comfort and encouragement to his dearly beloved family.
Paul referred to God the Father as the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. God is the originator and source of compassion. He is also the God of all (not just some) comfort. The Greek word for comfort is the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit: paraklesis. That word means to come along side to give help, refreshment, encouragement and consolation. It isn’t a sympathetic and pitying comfort. It is a strengthening and encouraging kind of comfort. Paul also mentions two different types of hardship: affliction and suffering. Affliction comes from the Greek word thlipsis, which means pressure, burden, oppression, tribulation or distress. Afflictions are hardships and challenges that come from living in a fallen and sinful world. Suffering comes from the Greek word pathema, which describes the suffering and persecution that Christ endured – and that all believers in Christ endure to some degree for their faith in Christ. Through our faith in Christ Jesus, the God of all comfort becomes our Father – and He will comfort us in the midst of affliction. Because we have experienced both earthly affliction and the comfort of God, we then can offer comfort (encouragement, strength and help) to others who go through affliction. Because we are in Christ, the sufferings that Christ endured will flow to us. To some degree, we will experience sufferings for righteousness sake. But, we can also be assured that the same comfort that Christ received – that enabled Him to endure all, will also be received by us and enable us to endure all as well.
Psalms: “Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; let those who love your salvation continually say, “The Lord is great!” I am oppressed and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my helper and my deliverer; my God, do not delay.” (Psalms 40:16-17 CSB)
David began this psalm describing how God came along side him, pulled him up out of a horrible pit, and set him on a strong and stable foundation. David finished this psalm declaring that all who seek the Lord can experience the same comforting presence and liberating salvation. Though there are times when we are oppressed and needy, our God, the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort will help us and deliver us. Therefore all who seek the Lord will be able to rejoice and be glad in Him.
Prayer: Lord, even though living in this world is full of affliction, and following You brings it’s own share of suffering; it is comforting to know that through all of it, You will not abandon me, but will come along side me to help, encourage, strengthen and empower me to endure. Then my experience enables me to do the same for others. When affliction and suffering comes, help me to not isolate myself and play the victim, but instead look for and accept Your comfort, and count the process joy for what it produces in and through me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.