Our lesson this week starts us into the second unit of lessons for this half of the quarter which is titled “Encouragement from a Tested Servant”.  The one thing that some think when it comes to being a child of God is that life will suddenly become easy.  There truly is this idea that believers should ‘have it made’ , but the honest truth is that many believers, like any other person, have struggles.  So, we are going to see Paul speak on this subject in our lesson this week.  This week’s lesson is being taught from 2 Corinthians 1:1-11.

God of All Comfort

So, our lesson this week opens with Paul’s greeting to those of the church of God in Corinth in his second letter to them (vss.1-2).  We can note from this opening that it includes a mention of Timothy who trained under Paul and also ministered the gospel of Christ as well.  Again he says to those in Corinth, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”

In the opening verses of this chapter, we will see that Paul writes about the Lord being the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (v.3)Over the past couple of weeks, in both our Sunday School lessons and sermons, we have seen that the Lord truly is a merciful God who desires for all people to turn from wickedness and turn to Him.  

God does not desire for anyone to die in the bondage of sins but for everyone to be saved from that bondage.  So, He gave His only begotten Son who died to be the propitiation of our sin so that through our faith we can find mercy and forgiveness, and have salvation.  God truly is the Lord of mercies and will be merciful towards you if you come to Him.

The struggles of a Christian

Now, what we have not necessarily seen in our lessons for this quarter is Paul speaking to the Corinthians about God being the comforting God that we know He is.  In the first unit of lessons, we were more focused on divisions in the church which was more focused on relationships between believers – how we should treat one another.  The idea of the Lord being a Lord of comfort, begins to focus on us as individuals first, so that we can better help those around us.

We will see Paul speak to how the Lord comforts us in all of our tribulation (v.4).  Something that I always express to believers, new and old, is that the journey for the believer is not always filled with sunshine and rainbows.  Our journey as believers can actually be quite trying and filled with many struggles.

I often say this is the case because believers have a greater awareness for when their struggles are spiritual compared to those who are not spiritual.  Those who are not spiritual live their lives blissfully without worry for all that goes on around them or affects them spiritually.  Whereas the genuine believer is fully aware of all that Satan and his agents of wickedness throw at them.  

Then, the physical, mental, and emotional struggles everyone has, including the genuine believer, impact us on a spiritual level.  So, those trials and tribulations can be quite difficult for the believer.  Our nature tells us to battle and to fight, while our faith tells us to remain steadfast and wait on the Lord.  This battle between our contrary parts can become very trying and stressful for the believer.

Christ understands our sufferings

Yet, Paul tells us that the Lord comforts us in all our tribulation.  Peter encouraged believers to cast their cares upon the Lord because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7).  Jesus, as you have heard me reference a lot lately, tells all of those who are heavy laden to come to Him so that He can give them rest (Matt. 11:28).

Let us remember what the Lord said to the children about His faithfulness.  God said that He would never leave nor forsake those who are His (Deut. 31:6).  Paul tells us that the Lord comforts us in all our tribulation so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.  God has shown His love towards us so that we know what love is and can therefore treat others with the same kind of love!

Again, we just celebrated Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday – the giving of Christ.  The giving of Christ showed the Lord’s love and mercy for us.  Yet, the giving of Christ shows the Lord’s compassion for us in that He became like us.  Jesus, I want you to understand, dealt with the same things we deal with in the world.  

Jesus went through sufferings physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  What this means for us is that the Lord truly understands what you and I go through.  So, the Lord certainly knows our needs and what it takes to help us in our trials and our tribulations.  Paul says, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation (comfort) also abounds through Christ (v.5).”

Rejoice in your suffering

What Paul says next about our suffering will be very fascinating to some.  I say this because not many people, whether believers or unbelievers, view going through trials and tribulations with the idea of rejoicing in mind.  Yet, this is essentially what we will see Paul say the believer should do.

Paul states, “if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation (comforting) and salvation which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer (v.6).”  In essence, Paul is telling us that our affliction is giving reason for us to be comforted by the Lord and builds up our faith to be able to endure any other sufferings that may come along the way.   We know this is all about our faith growing strong in the Lord because God is the only one who can bring about salvation which is included in Paul’s statement.

Now, this thought of rejoicing in our sufferings is echoed elsewhere in scripture.  I instantly think of James and what he wrote in the opening of his letter about trials and tribulation.  James wrote, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (Jas. 1:2-4).

So, we should rejoice even in our trials and our tribulations because we know that the Lord is going to bring us through those trials and tribulations!  As it is often said, if the Lord did it before, you better believe He will certainly do it again for you.  So, yes, you should rejoice and find comfort in knowing that the Lord will lift you up in your sufferings – those trials and those tribulations.  Paul encouraged, “our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation (v.7).”

Proof of God’s comfort

Our lesson closes out with Paul speaking of the troubles that he and Timothy both faced as they ministered in Asia.  Something we saw Paul do in our lesson last week was show those who were maybe weak in the faith or sinners that they could be saved by the Lord because he, a man who had done far worse sins, had been saved by God.  Paul, to encourage those in Corinth to trust in the Lord’s comfort in times of need, speaks of a time when he had to practice what he preached.

Paul says to the Corinthians, “we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia (v.8).”  This is actually speaking of an event that took place in Ephesus, as recorded in Acts 19:21-41.  Paul had arrived in Ephesus to minister the gospel but some of the people took offense to the preaching of the gospel.  

Some of the Ephesians felt that the preaching of Christ would take money out of their pockets as people would turn away from worship of Diana, a Roman goddess.  This eventually led to some of those who were with Paul being seized and taken by those in Ephesus.  Paul, for a time, was not even allowed to do anything about this.  Now, there were other times where Paul faced such crowds and even on one occasion he was knocked unconscious from being stoned (Acts 14:19-20)! 

We will see that Paul then said, “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves (v.9).”  They felt that things were so bad for them that they had given up hope!  Yet, Paul then points out that this situation led them to put their hope in the Lord who was/is all powerful, raised the dead, and delivered them (us as well) from evil (v.10).  So, while they had temporarily given up hope in that situation, we do see that their faith did kick in.  Because Paul was writing about the history of that situation, we know that the Lord brought them through.

This is why I always tell people upfront about the trials and tribulations that they will face as believers:  so that they can be prepared to remain steadfast in their faith.  Whether you realize it or not, the Lord has always been there to help you through your trials and tribulations.  Because the Lord has always been there to help us, we should certainly find comfort in the fact that God will not leave us to suffer and be destroyed by what we go through.  Be steadfast in your faith that the Lord is going to help bring you through all your troubles.


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