The Suffering Saint - Part 6
Last week we looked at one reason given by Paul in our text of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, that afflictions that come upon us, like spiritual gifts that are given to us, should be used to comfort or edify others. Jesus said, ”It is more blessed to give than to receive," in Acts 20:35. Our brethren can most certainly benefit from the afflictions we receive. Our comfort that we receive from God is not to be bottled up and kept to ourselves. Today, verse 5 and 6, "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer."
The Apostle Paul went through so much affliction as seen in 2 Cor.11;23-27, including the thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor.12:7, Paul did indeed agonize through many of the sufferings that Christ suffered which were His in abundance. But while the sufferings of Christ abounded to him, the comforts were also abundantly the same to him in Christ. And both the afflictions and the comforts were not exclusively for him alone, but likewise were for all Christians. God turns the comforted into comforters. Sharing in Christ's sufferings as Paul states, points us to the meaning of Christ's sufferings as they brought comfort and salvation to other people. So our sufferings can bring comfort to other people as well. We receive abundant comfort through Christ, by God, in mercies freely given to us.
In Isaiah.65:24, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." Before we ask for relief from our momentary, light affliction, to be helped from, He already has an equal or above-what-is-necessary mercy coming to meet it. He never gives less than He has promised, but often times more! It would be inconceivable to think that after receiving this kind of merciful comfort from the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, to bottle it up and not share it with others. So it is more blessed, more joyful, more satisfying to give comfort to others with that which He has comforted us. But we are afflicted for the comforts of others in verse 6. The design of God is that we be afflicted so that we can be comforted and then become comforters, and it says salvation as well. Pastors, parents, leaders, Sunday school teachers are afflicted to show a perseverance in getting through these afflictions, to not throw in the towel and give up on God, but finish the race (salvation remember for the believer is past, present, and future); their experience in it, is their preparation for it.
These leaders in our lives are afflicted in order to know how to comfort, and help those under them to persevere, whether it is conflict, calamities, or cancer that others are going through. John Piper says, "God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them." God does not want us to rely upon ourselves to comfort ourselves, but that we would trust Him who does things in an abundant way always. English Puritan Thomas Case said, "Afflictions make heaven appear as heaven indeed. To the weary, it is rest; to the banished - home; to the scorned and reproached - glory; to the captive - liberty; to the soldier - conquest; and to the conquerer, it is a crown of life, of righteousness, and of glory. It is a throne, on which they shall sit and reign with Christ forever and ever." Remember, "If we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom.8:17).
Elder Randy Slak