The Suffering Saint - Part 4
This week we will look at a small phrase in our main text of 2 Cor. 3:-11. Paul has said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,” and our phrase today follows, “who comforts us in all our afflictions.” The greek word here for affliction is the word thlipsis. In ordinary Greek this word always describes actual physical pressure on a man. Such as weights placed on a man's chest that would seem to be unbearable. It is a pressing, or pressing together, a time of great distress, oppression, and is used again four verses later when Paul says, “We were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.” God, Paul says, “comforts us in all these afflictions.” He is indeed a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1).
God, as we have learned is sovereign, and all powerful, and full of mercy that He can and will lead us through these excruciatingly painful times in life. Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and very courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Being the Father of mercies, He will surely not run short of compassion and mercy any more than the sun will run out of heat and light. Remember back in James 1:5 that the testing of our faith produces patience, a patient enduring. This patient enduring will produce for us a great spiritual maturity. Psalm 63:3, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life", and our love to God makes us cleave to God, and so we can follow Him through all kinds of weather, circumstances, and endurances. Oh to be approved of by God through the afflictions of life, like Abraham, Gen. 22:12; God says to him, “I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.” English Puritan Thomas Goodwin says of Abraham, “This is the greatest privilege a saint can have, and this ought to be matter of the greatest comfort.”
James 5:11 states, “We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance (patience) of Job, and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” He will love you to the end, to the utter most, and no one will snatch you out of His hand. Prov.18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runs into it and is safe.” Our calling to follow Christ will probably not be an easy one. It will mean submission to His authority, for all authority has been given Him in heaven and on earth; It will mean imitation of His example, for He learned obedience through suffering; it will mean choosing Him and obeying Him, and keeping close to Him - for whom do I have in heaven but You, and besides You, I desire nothing on earth. In John 21:18, Jesus tells Peter what kind of death he would glorify God by and then said 'Follow Me'. That must have shaken Peter a bit, knowing what he would go through following Christ to his martyrdom. Alexander MacLaren says, “What business has Jesus Christ to demand that a man should go after Him to the death? Only this business, that He has gone to the death for the man.”
Peter may have been impulsive, ready to do more than he said, and yielding himself up to the impulse of the moment, but he was faithful unto death. He has followed Jesus who is declared to be the Son of God with power, by His resurrection from the dead, that He is the Lord of both of the dead and the living, both of death and life. MacLaren says, “Peter is shut up in prison and delivered once, at the very last moment, when hope was almost dead, in order that he might understand that when he was put into another prison and not delivered, the blow of martyrdom fell upon him, not because of the strength of his persecutors, but because of the will of his Lord.” Many have been the men and women the world was not worthy of, Peter was one of those servants of Christ, one of the chosen apostles, one of those who rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, for in His presence there is fullness of joy and at His right hand pleasures forever more. Remember, “Cast your burdens on the Lord, and He will sustain you, He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)
Elder Randy Slak