Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
When Paul writes about suffering in this passage, he is talking specifically about suffering for Christ, and for the sake of the gospel [verse 5].
One of the verses of Scripture that has often challenged me personally is Paul’s word to Timothy, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” [2 Timothy 3:12]. We are in a spiritual battle! At various points and in various ways the enemy will seek to attack and hurt us. This might be through inward attacks, or outward attacks by people who oppose the gospel. One of the ways that this attack comes is through persecution. There will be opposition when, however gentle we may be, we uncompromisingly share our faith in Jesus, and the meaning of salvation. Jesus warns, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you” [Luke 6:26].
The Early Church knew a lot about persecution. We see it from the very beginning in the Book of Acts. Several books, including, Hebrews, James, and the epistles of Peter were written against the backcloth of persecution and suffering. Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul spoke of their being appointed to afflictions [1 Thessalonians 3:2-3].
On several occasions Paul spoke to the Corinthians about his suffering. Here is one such passage:
“Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation.
For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus” [2 Corinthians 7:4-6]. Notice that there were physical attacks, but Paul also experienced fear and was downcast.
The Greek word translated as comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 is ‘parakalesis’ meaning consolation, encouragement and comfort. The prefix ‘para’ means to come alongside. God comes alongside us to encourage us. The Greek word that we translate as tribulation [NKJV] or trouble [NIV] is ‘thlipsis’ and depicts a crushing pressure, and immense trial. However great the trial God promises His presence and encouragement and will bring us through. He will speak to us through His Word, promising us that he will not allow us to be tested above that which we are able to bear [1 Corinthians 10:13]. He will also minister His comfort to us through others, as in the coming of Titus to Paul.
Why do you think that God allows us to go through times of great trial and sometimes crushing pressure?
Read James 1:2. What does James say about our attitude to trials?
Do you remember a time when you experienced a great trial and God comforted you and brought you through? Why not thank Him today?