As we will see reading through this letter, 2 Corinthians is actually the third letter that Paul wrote to the church. The second is nowhere to be found. The gist of the story is that after 1 Corinthians was written and sent, the church still struggled to follow the will of God. Paul wrote another letter and then quickly visited them to help straighten them out. It seems that after this visit, Paul learned that the church was doing better.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 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; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
I’ve always believed the point the Paul makes here, but it isn’t until today that I have found it in the bible. The comfort that we are given through our difficulties isn’t meant to terminate on us, it is given to us to give to others. God uses us to give comfort to others. Jesus suffered affliction as well and as we identify with Him in that affliction, we also get to identify with Him in His comfort and victory over pain, suffering, and even death. This is the hope that we have that those who do not believe don’t.
The Corinthians suffered a lot of affliction as they continued to learn about how to follow God’s will instead of the will of the world. Living in sin city, they were constantly tempted and pulled in different directions away from the kingdom of God. Jesus understands this affliction because He was subjected to all the temptations of the world too. Although our sufferings may be great, we know that our comfort is also great because of how great our God is. Do you notice the second half of verse 6? The comfort of God is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. This means not only that God’s comfort sees us through our afflictions, but He gives us others around us to help us through it. This is why it is so important to remain connected to a community of believers. As a family we can help each other through troubles, regardless of what they are. The Corinthians understood this well as they suffered and endured together in the victory of Christ.
Are you afflicted today? Are you suffering from something that seems hopeless? There is eternal hope in Christ, who comforts us when we call on Him for help. He doesn’t take us out of the situation; He brings us through it with enduring patience, hope, and comfort. This is what is so different about those who have a relationship with God; they laugh in the face of adversity and are at peace regardless of their worldly circumstances. They have something that supersedes all that is happening in this world: the love of God in their hearts.
Your affliction and pain isn’t hopeless. Your comfort and peace has a name: Jesus.