Encouragement to Persevere

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV

“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.”

What is Comfort?

If you look up this word “comfort” in an English dictionary, you will read something like this: “A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” “The easing or alleviation of a person’s feelings of grief or distress.” (Google) In the thesaurus (MS Word) you will probably see such synonyms as “ease, luxury, coziness, relief, relaxation, cheer,” etc. It is basically a picture of the soft life, taking it easy.

But that isn’t what the Greek word means, which has been translated into the English as “comfort.” It means, “A calling for, a summons, hence; (a) an exhortation, (b) entreaty, (c) encouragement, joy, gladness, (d) consolation and comfort (source: biblehub.com/Greek). It goes on to add “a holy urging used of the Lord directly motivating and inspiring believers to carry out his plan, delivering His particular message to someone else.”

So, this is not about being at ease (having things easy) or free from any kind of restraint or pain or suffering of any kind. This isn’t necessarily about the easing of people’s feelings, either, especially if it has to do with making compromises with truth or righteousness so as to not offend people. And this isn’t about feeling cozy and enjoying relaxation and just taking it easy and not taking life too seriously and just sitting back and doing nothing.

When God comforts us, he doesn’t tell us we can just take it easy now so that we don’t have to suffer. This is a holy urging, motivating and inspiring believers to carry out God’s plans for our lives. This is an appeal, it is godly counsel, it is urging, and an entreaty to keep on in the faith, and to keep pressing forward, and to not give up hope, and to not retreat, but to keep serving the Lord no matter how hard it gets, and it gets hard.

Sharing in Christ’s Sufferings

We who are followers of Jesus Christ are called of God to suffer for the sake of his name, for the sake of the gospel, and for the sake of righteousness. We aren’t called to a life of ease. And if we are honestly following Jesus Christ in his ways and in his truth and according to the Spirit of God and in obedience to our Lord and to his commands, I guarantee we will suffer, for even our fellow Christians and pastors of churches will come against us and will try to convince us to not be so serious about our walks of faith.

For we live in a day and time, at least here in America, where it appears that the vast majority of what is called “church” and “Christian” has gone the way of the world and of big business and they are compromising truth and righteousness in order to appeal to the flesh of humans and to the people of this world. So there is not much of a distinction anymore between the church and the world, for so much of the church is looking just like the world only with a Christian theme to their gatherings.

So, because so much of the church today is going the way of the world and they are compromising truth and righteousness in order to win the world to their gatherings, and to keep them coming back, those of us who are remaining steadfast in the faith as Jesus taught and his NT apostles taught what faith in Jesus Christ means, we are being opposed and rejected and persecuted even by church people and by pastors of churches who are trying to build their earthly kingdoms according to business marketing models.

And so we need to “comfort” one another with the comfort that we receive from God, which is this holy urging and this exhortation to keep pressing on, and to not give up, and to endure unjust suffering for the sake of righteousness, and to not fall back out of discouragement. And it is this holy urging to keep living holy lives, pleasing to God, and to keep following our Lord in obedience, and to keep putting to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit and to not cave to pressure to compromise so people will like us.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

Like I said, if we are following Jesus with biblical faith which is putting sin to death, by the Spirit, and which is walking in obedience to his commands, and which is following Jesus wherever he leads us in doing whatever he has called us to do, it is hard when other Christians and pastors and friends and family members oppose us and mistreat us because they don’t agree with our walks of faith and they think we need to compromise with the world.

And there may be times in our walks of faith where the opposition is so strong from within the gatherings of the church or from friends or family members that we may get to the point of despairing of life. It can honestly get that severe if we are honestly serious about our walks of faith with Jesus. For those who are compromising with the world are not going to feel comfortable being around those who are not.

But the Lord Jesus allows us to go through these times of suffering and of being opposed and of being mistreated, rejected, and persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for in these times of suffering and difficulties we learn to rely on God alone and not on ourselves, and not on anyone else, either. And we learn to make Jesus our only Lord and sometimes our best friend and our pastor or spouse or other family member, etc., too.

So, when the Lord does open up doors for us for ministry, and then he provides us with encouragers and with Christian fellowship with like-minded Christians, it is such a blessing, and it is so healing to our hearts. But even there our dependency needs to remain in the Lord and in his strength and power and not on our fellow humans who may fail and desert us. And we need to pray for one another, too, for many are suffering today.

Broken and Contrite

An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

2 thoughts on “Encouragement to Persevere

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