Comfort in troubles
[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 2 Corinthians 1:4
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.
6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.
7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us.
Modern medicine recommends resistance training to improve your overall health. Muscles work to overcome resistance when they are called upon to do so. Resistance training pushes your muscles outside of their comfort zone working them against an opposing force. It employs progressive overload. Over time, resistance is increased requiring slightly more physical effort.
Resistance training causes trauma to the muscles. Muscles are torn down. Muscles were intelligently designed to restore and mend themselves. They repair or replace damaged muscle fibers. At the end of the process, there is additional endurance and muscle strength.
In simple terms, resistance training (a.k.a. strength training) makes you stronger and more effective.
Physiologically speaking, when we perform any type of exercise our blood pressure and heart rate increase to meet the greater demand for oxygen from our muscles. Over time, typical improvements resulting from resistance training include lower blood pressure, increased metabolism, increased bone density, better balance, greater ease of everyday activities, and improved quality of life.
What is true in the physical world is also true in the spiritual world. How does the Father enhance the spiritual strength of the children of the King? The Father employs spiritual resistance training to increase our endurance, effectiveness, and ability to help others. Rather than using isometric or endurance exercises, the Father uses suffering and affliction. When properly responded to, the vicissitudes of life, with their inherent challenges and troubles, build endurance and spiritual strength.
“The Christian is the athlete of God whose spiritual muscles become stronger from the discipline of difﬁculties” (Barclay). “It is always costly to be a real Christian, for Christianity is not true Christianity without the cross” (Rutherford).
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death.
The apostle Paul recognized an unexpected benefit from his difficulties. When he suffered, he experienced the Father’s comfort. This produced a major perspective transformation for him. He realized that human spirits grow through a tearing down and rebuilding process as well. As the Father comforted him, he was encouraged and filled with joy, peace, and hope.
Further, the comfort that the Father provided during Paul’s sorrows was transferable. He was not only comforted but he was also empowered to comfort others in their sorrows. The Father’s gentle encouragement is transformative. It prepared Paul to comfort others with the same comfort he had received.
In other words, Paul became a comforter. The Father’s comfort has been paid forward for 2000 years. In an extraordinary, mystical way Paul identifies with our sorrows. In turn, children of the King are enabled to identify with and experience the comfort that the Father provides.
Paul praises the Father as a source of constant encouragement amid a variety of distressing circumstances. Paul recognizes that Christ’s sufferings become the sufferings of each child of the King. “He recognizes that the purpose of his ongoing experience of divine comfort was to equip him to be an agent of God’s bountiful comfort and encouragement to those facing any kind of distress” (NIGTC).
“When trials hit, we can always be sure that God will come to our aid. Why? It’s His nature. He is ‘the Father of mercies’ and the ‘God of all comfort’” (Stanley).
REFLECT & PRAY
Physical and emotional pain and suffering are part of the battle children of the King experience who live in a fallen world.
Father during my struggles encourage me to draw near to You, and please draw near to me. I long to experience the sweet embrace of Your delightful comfort and warmth.
The Father does not waste suffering. Neither should we. He has reasons that He does not always reveal to us. The Father’s purpose goes beyond the pain that we endure.
2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Paul pulls back the curtain a bit on the human experience of suffering and provides a partial answer to the question, “Why do we suffer?” We are never alone in our sufferings. When we experience life’s difficulties, Father has a personalized comfort and care plan prepared for each child of the King.
John 16:33 I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
For children of the King, life is a battleground, not a playground. Life is filled with enigmas, difficulties, challenges, and trouble. Apart from the word of God and all seems so random and unintelligible.
2 Corinthians 1:6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.
As we begin to grasp that suffering itself builds spiritual strength and endurance, an inward change occurs. The “Why” question is answered in part by recognizing that spiritual resistance training results in endurance.
The Greek word translated as endurance is hupomone. The essence of hupomone is not a grim, bleak, fatalistic resignation of suffering. Rather, hupomone allows us to triumph over our troubles. Children of the King do not merely go through suffering, they vanquish it.
“Someone once said to a sufferer: ‘Suffering colors life, doesn’t it?’ The sufferer replied: ‘Yes, but I propose to choose the color’” (Barclay).
The canvas of our lifespans has sketched upon it all the events of our lives. Through our relationship with the Father or lack thereof, we play a part in the textures and colors added to it. It can be dull, drab, boring, or depressing. Or it can be bright, cheerful, upbeat, and filled with confident expectation.
But there’s more. “A sick bed often teaches more than a sermon, and suffering first teaches us about our sin and sinfulness. Suffering also teaches us about ourselves, for in times of health and prosperity all seems to be well and we are both humble and grateful, but in suffering, we come to see the ingratitude and rebellion of our hearts. We can best see the ugly face of sin and the reality of spiritual childishness in the mirror of suffering” (Tim Challies).
James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.