2 Corinthians_1

Scripture:  2 Corinthians 1:7  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Observation-What does it say?  When Paul wrote his first letter to the church at Corinth, they were experiencing a deal of turmoil within the group.  Which is the reason for his sharp tone denouncing their behavior.  While he was attempting to return to the city of Corinth, to which he suffered many hardships during the journey, both physically and internally, he was anxious to find out their status and how the first letter was received.  In the opening to this letter, Paul praises God for his goodness during these recent trials.  “His suffering has had two wholly good side-effects: the experience of God’s comfort in it all; a new ability to help comfort those in similar circumstances.” (Zondervan Handbook to the Bible, p.706)

Understanding-What does it mean?   My buddy Jon came up with the quote for the back of my cross-country team shirt for my junior year.  “Suffering is fun!”  The saying was accompanied by a picture of a stick figure man in the process of losing his lunch.  One of the things about kids who run long distance, they have a bit of a warped sense of humor.  It may be because we spent our free time doing the thing that for other sports is a punishment.  It may be because it was often hard find a restroom in those hours of activity.  Either way, as a runner I came to appreciate the fact that to find meaning in my running, to see improvements, there was a certain amount of suffering that had to be endured.

Life is full of all sorts of suffering.  Without some sort of meaning, the suffering can be too much to endure.  Our careers can be seen as useless unless we have meaning in them, a noble purpose that makes the suffering worth it.  Without a family to provide for, or an enduring mark on society, the work we do will feel as though it falls on emptiness.

In the Christian life, we are clearly warned of the suffering we will endure for the sake of God’s name.  Time and time again through the words of those who suffered in the stories of the Bible, we hear of God comforting those who suffer for him.  We see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego surviving fire.  Daniel finding comfort in the lions den.  Jonah praising God in the belly of a great fish.  And here in the book of Corinthians, we see Paul telling us of the great comfort he has had in suffering.  When we draw close to Him, God will comfort us.

John G. Patton was a missionary to an island of cannibals.  During his time he suffered great violence and threats on his life.  Of this suffering he wrote, “Life in such circumstances led me to cling very near to the Lord Jesus; I knew not, for one brief hour, when or how attack might be made; and yet, with my trembling hand clasped in the hand once nailed on Calvary, and now swaying the scepter of the universe, calmness and peace and resignation abode in my soul.”

Life Application  Praise the Lord, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.  Praise the Lord. Psalm 117

Jesus teach me to worship, even when life seems impossible.  Help me to endure the suffering here on earth, knowing that you will bring me comfort.  My purpose here is to bring you glory, and I find comfort in that.  
 
-Tyler Galloway