Sharing in Our Sufferings

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.”

Well, the first way in which our Lord demonstrated his mercies to us was by dying on a cross, taking upon himself all our sins, nailing them to the cross with him, so that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. For Jesus died on that cross, not just to forgive us our sins, and not just to give us the hope of eternal life with him in heaven, but to deliver us out of our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin so that we can walk righteously before him in his power and strength and wisdom.

And then his mercies are unending to us who have forsaken our lives of sin to follow him in obedience in walks of holiness and righteousness, by the grace of God. And one of the ways in which he demonstrates his mercies to us is in giving us comfort in our afflictions. But this word “comfort” is not just about what we may think of as comfort, but the word also has as its meaning “exhortation, warning, encouragement,” “a call (urging),” “a personal exhortation,” “an intimate call,” and “a holy urging,” which is used of the Lord directly motivating and inspiring believers to carry out his plan.

For example, during Job’s time of suffering, the Lord didn’t come alongside him and say all kinds of nice and comforting words to Job. And he didn’t immediately remove him from his suffering. He let him suffer for a long while, and not because Job had done anything wrong, for Job was a righteous man who loved God. But Job’s faith was definitely being put to the test, and Job was being taught by the Lord during this time, and he was learning more about the Lord than he knew before.

And then there is the example of Paul. Numerous times Paul was mistreated and falsely accused of wrongdoing, and falsely imprisoned, and beaten, and at least one time he was left for dead, but he survived. In fact, at one point, he and Timothy were so utterly burdened beyond their own strength that they despaired of life itself. They felt they had received the sentence of death. (I have felt that way more than once.) But, he said, “That was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

So, our Lord does not always comfort us in our afflictions with soothing feel-good words to make us feel better. And he doesn’t always immediately deliver us from our suffering, either, for sometimes the suffering is allowed in our lives so we will grow in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ, and learn perseverance, and learn humility and reliance upon the Lord, and to teach us things we need to learn, and to change us to be more like Jesus, etc.

So, when we comfort others in their affliction with the same comfort we received from the Lord, it may be that we will share with them some of the things the Lord taught us during our times of suffering, which could indeed have to do with humbling us and getting us to change some of our attitudes or actions, and to make us more like Jesus. So our words to others may not be perceived as “comforting” in the sense that many people think of as comfort, but they may be in a biblical sense, which is for their good.

So, when Paul said that if he and Timothy are afflicted, it is for the Christians’ comfort and salvation, then why salvation? Because salvation is not a one-time deal that takes place and then we are good to go to heaven when we die. Biblical salvation is progressive, and it will not be complete until Jesus returns and he takes his true bride to be with him for eternity.. but on the condition that we walk in obedience to his commands, and that we not walk in sin, and that holiness and righteousness are our practice, and that we continue in these walks of faith to the very end.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

So, if we are afflicted for others’ comfort and salvation, that would appear to indicate that our suffering (affliction) and our comfort from the Lord encourage and exhort others to walk in holiness and righteousness, and not in sin, but in walks of obedience to our Lord. For what we learn from our suffering and our trials and tribulations we can then pass on to others so that hopefully they will learn those lessons, too, and so that they will be encouraged to follow the Lord in obedience and to forsake their sins.

Also, when Paul talked about the believers patiently enduring and sharing in the same types of suffering as what the apostles were experiencing, and that resulting in them also sharing in the same comfort they received from the Lord, he was indicating that the other believers were suffering for the sake of righteousness, and for the sake of the truth of the gospel of Christ, and for the sake of the name of Jesus, too. And so they were receiving similar comfort from the Lord, which was for their spiritual growth in their walks of faith, and to help them to persevere and to not give up.

But there is another comfort involved here, too, and that is when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, and for Jesus’ sake, and for the sake of the gospel, we receive comfort from our Lord that our suffering is not for naught. Good is going to come from it, and some people’s lives are going to be changed for the good, and for eternal purposes, because of what we suffered. And there will be people in heaven who are there because we dared to tell them the truth despite the ill treatment we received in return.

[Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:16-25; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 6:22-23; Lu 21:12-19; Jn 15:1-21; Jn 16:33; Jn 17:14; Ac 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; Phil 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; 1 Jn 3:13]

Praise the “I AM!”

An Original Work / February 24, 2012

Jesus, my Savior, full of compassion,
Glorious in power, mighty in strength;
Gracious Redeemer, mighty deliv’rer,
My heart adores Him. Praise to His name!
Perfect salvation my Lord provided
When He died for my sins on a tree;
Crucified my sins; conquered in vict’ry,
When He arose, so I could be free!

I am so thankful for His forgiveness;
Grateful that He chose to pardon me,
Giving me new life full in His Spirit,
So I can serve Him; His servant be!
Walking in daily fellowship with Him,
Obeying Him whate’er He commands;
Forsaking my sins, living in freedom,
I will endure with Him to the end!

He gives me peace and calm reassurance
In times of sorrow, or in distress.
His grace is sure, and oh, how sufficient
To meet me in my need for sweet rest.
Oh, how I love You, Jesus, my Savior.
My heart longs for You where’er I am.
Your word is precious; speaks to my spirit;
Brings comfort, healing. Praise the “I AM!”

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