God Delivers

(Part 5 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort
Part 3: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings
Part 4: Depending on God

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

– 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

God could just as easily not have delivered Paul here. Paul could have been killed in Ephesus by angry mobs — or anywhere. Indeed in his ministry travels, he was stoned and left for dead, but by God’s grace, he got up again and returned to the place to preach more [Acts 14:19-20]. The word in Greek for “deliver” here is rhýomai, to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer. What that means then is God delivered Paul because He had a continuing purpose for Paul; He was not finished with him yet.

And that didn’t preclude Paul suffering more for the gospel. In fact, by saying that he has an ongoing (present and future) hope of deliverance, Paul is basically saying he expects continued suffering and tribulation from preaching the gospel. And his only hope to be delivered from it again rests in God. This is his great comfort. Continue reading

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Depending on God

(Part 4 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort
Part 3: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings

For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came [to us] in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;

– 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

After explaining the relationship between suffering and comfort, Paul had a heartfelt interest that the Corinthians would know what exactly he had been going through in his missionary travels. Paul needs a listening ear here. In other words, “let me tell you how tough things have been lately!”

We do not know from biblical record what Paul refers to here, but we can surmise that it arose in or near Ephesus. He had very likely faced continuing Jewish opposition to the gospel and it made life very difficult. Continue reading

Sharing Christ’s Sufferings

(Part 3 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: God’s Mercy and Comfort
Part 2: The Who and Why of Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 3:5

What does it mean to “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings”? And how does this relate to comfort?

I have struggled for the last several days to grasp this weighty concept. In spite of this effort, I am not sure how near I am to understanding it yet. So I’m going to offer some thoughts on this and not try to tie it all up neatly with a bow.

Christ’s sufferings encompass the physical, mental, and spiritual. In light of Paul’s verse, I thought it would be useful to briefly list some of the various sufferings of Christ as I observed them in scripture: Continue reading

The Who and Why of Comfort

(Part 2 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Part 1: The God of Mercy and Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; 6-7

Today I’m taking two “chunks” of this passage together because they are so connected to each other in meaning. I’ll come back for verse 5 next time.

The Sources of Our Comfort

Paul speaks in verse 4 about who it is that comforts us in affliction. Ultimately all sources of comfort have their origin in God. God’s comfort manifests itself in several ways: Continue reading

The God of Mercy and Comfort

(Part 1 of a series on God’s comfort in affliction)

Find the whole series here.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,   2 Corinthians 1:3 ESV

Paul begins this section of 2 Corinthians by pointing to and praising God. Paul often praises God, but in this case, he praises him specifically for being the God of “mercies” and “comfort.” This is our foundation for the entire passage (3-11).

mercy

Photo credit: info.alliancenet.org

When you think of mercy, what do you come up with? To me it’s something you do or say to or for someone in need that brings them relief. You lend your strength to a person who is weak. You hold them up when they cannot hold themselves. Here Paul uses the Greek word oiktirmos, meaning “to have compassion on.” It is not the usual word for “mercy” in the Greek, as it indicates a deep, reliable compassion toward suffering that we can depend upon receiving from God.

In other words, God is always there when you need Him. He is unswerving in His faithfulness to you. He is not simply standing from a distance observing that you are struggling; rather He sees and is affected in His heart by your difficulties. He is near and willing to intervene, whether that means sending you a person to help, changing your circumstances (but not always!), or most importantly helping you see how He has acted mercifully in the past. Continue reading