Blessing of God’s Comfort
Posted February 12, 2023
Lesson 11 Winter Quarter
Lesson Text: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11
Golden Text: 2 Corinthians 1:7
The third lesson within this unit of lessons focusing on living under grace, takes a look at the comfort we have in the Lord. Right away, I am reminded of what is said by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel when He invited all who labor and are heavy laden to come unto Him (Matt. 11:28). There are a few reasons as to why it is that the Lord comforts us and we are going to go over those reasons in our lesson today.
God’s Comfort in Tribulation
Our lesson opens up with Paul thanking and praising God for His comfort in all of our tribulation (v.3). Tribulation can be anything you and I go through that is a struggle or cause of stress over a period of time. Life, we would say, is often filled with trials, temptation, and tribulation.
Reasons the Lord comforts us
So, let’s discuss for a moment why it is that the Lord comforts us when we are going through tribulation. The first reason as to why the Lord comforts us in our tribulation is the most obvious reason to me – God loves us. God is compassionate in His love towards us.
The compassion of Christ was a topic that we recently went over in the lesson Blessing of Intercession. In that lesson, you will recall that we learned we have a great high priest in Christ who sympathizes and understands what we go through on a daily basis. What this means is that Christ understands our pains, sorrows, guilt, and burdens and from that understanding, He desires to move on our behalf to uplift us. So, the main reason behind God’s comfort is the fact that He loves us.
Now, we will see Paul introduce to us another very important reason as to why the Lord comforts us in our tribulation. Paul stated that the Lord comforts us so that we “may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (v.4).”
This point by Paul speaks to how the child of God ought to always move in a Christ-like manner. Now, we must admit that there are simply going to be days when moving in that manner will be nearly impossible for us. Why? Because we go through some things! What I mean by this is that there are going to be days where our heart is simply not in the right place for us to move as we would wish to move.
For example, in his letter, James speaks to how an angry and wrathful heart cannot produce the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:19-20). At the same time, the heart of one that is in the pit of despair is certainly not a heart that can produce the righteousness of God as well. Why? The depressed soul is a soul that is wounded and broken, and it is extremely difficult to operate (think, feel, or act) when your soul is taxed and broken.
So, whether we are angry in our heart or wounded and broken, we cannot produce the righteousness of God. Therefore, the Lord has to comfort us in our tribulation so that we can be lifted back up in our soul to a place where we can produce the righteousness of God. Again, producing the righteousness of God is what we have been commissioned to do! So, God ultimately comforts us so that we can fulfill our calling.
Growth through tribulation
What’s even more interesting about God’s comfort here in Paul’s writing is the idea that Paul brings up about our going through tribulation.
Oftentimes, when we are being tried, tempted, and going through tribulation, we don’t think too kindly on the matter. Yet, we saw last week where James said that we should actually rejoice when we fall into various trials (Jas. 1:2). James said this with the thought in mind of how our trials lead to our faith being strengthened.
Paul speaks to going through tribulation with the same kind of mindset – there is growth. Notice, Paul said that as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation (consoling) also abounds through Christ (v.5). Yes, we are going to go through tribulation, and the Lord will even allow (permit) us to go through tribulation, but we as genuine believers know that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us; we know that God is going to comfort us in our time of need.
On this same note, in the very next verse, we will see that Paul adds a layer by saying our afflictions not only strengthen us but they also help those around us as well (v.6). The point that Paul makes in the sixth verse is so fascinating to me because, again, many of us don’t have such an outlook when it comes to tribulation. You see, none of us like to go through struggles at all!
Something I learned in my five years of undergoing dialysis is that even when we are afflicted and going through tribulation, we still stand as a testimony of the Lord. Many of us begin to believe that we are in such a weakened state when we are going through some difficult times. Some of us even become ashamed when we are going through tribulation, but I tell you that you ought to think otherwise.
In our afflictions, we stand as a testimony to how God still loves us. In our days of tribulation, we also stand as a testimony to God’s comfort. You see, there are many who are overtaken and consumed in their trials, temptation, and tribulation. However, you, on the other hand, can never be overtaken and consumed because you have faith.
As Paul said to the Corinthians, we can be hard pressed on every side but we will never be crushed; we may be perplexed on every side but never in despair; persecuted, but never abandoned; struck down, but never destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8). Paul encouraged the Corinthians to never lose heart and that is something I encourage all of you as well. When we do not lose heart, others will begin to see how the Lord is caring for us. When we overcome our afflictions and our tribulation, others will see the end results of God’s comfort and then give Him a try.
On this note, we can move into the last few verses of lessons where Paul speaks of grave tribulation he and others faced while in Asia (v.8).
Now, I have read elsewhere where some believe the affliction Paul was speaking of in these few verses were personal; they suggest that Paul could have gotten gravely ill while in Asia. I am open to believing that though, I mostly believe that what Paul is speaking of in these few verses affected his traveling group as well. Notice that Paul said, “we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even life.”
In the very next verse, Paul said, “we had the sentence of death in ourselves (v.9).” Paul then followed that statement by speaking to how the prayers of the Corinthians had helped “us” (or them) in their perseverance, and how the Lord would deliver “us” (them) (vss.10-11). So, to me, it is clear that there was something dramatic that had played out in Asia with Paul and his companions that caused them great struggle.
In Acts 19:21-41, there is an event that occurred in Ephesus that involved Paul and those that were traveling with him. Ephesus’ location was in modern Turkey on the western coast of Asia Minor. At this location, Paul had been ministering Christ and was desiring to go to Rome to minister Christ there.
Now, Paul’s ministering of Christ was not welcomed to a man named Demetrius. The reason why Paul’s message wasn’t welcomed was because Demetrius felt Paul was ruining his business. Demetrius was in the business of making shrines of the goddess, Diana and with Paul running preaching Christ, Demetrius was losing business because people were beginning to put down those idol shrines.
So, Demetrius was angry and gathered others to his cause to move against Paul because what Paul was doing in Ephesus, he was doing elsewhere. This commotion wasn’t the first time Paul met head on with opponents to his preaching and teaching of Christ. However, if this is the event that Paul is referencing to the Corinthians, we see that was not a light occurrence; it troubled Paul and those with him in their soul. Yet, from this trouble, the Lord delivered Paul and the rest.
So, whether Paul had gotten gravely sick or a mob came for him in Ephesus, he was encouraged because the Lord was not only with Him, but God comforted him and then delivered him. This deliverance was something that made Paul rejoice and share with the Corinthians.
Why did Paul share this message of God’s comfort and deliverance from tribulation with the Corinthians? He desired to encourage the Corinthians to be of faith in the Lord in their days of tribulation. Paul knew that if they were steadfast in their faith, God would bring them through and they would be another testimony of the Lord.