According to the dictionary, suffering is the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. Pain is relative; what is hard for one may not be hard for another. Both suffer—maybe a little, maybe a lot, but both suffer. What makes suffering even worse is when there is no one to bring comfort. Solomon spoke to this compounding effect in Ecclesiastes 4: “Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them.”
- When have you gone through something traumatic and felt that no one was there for you?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 1:1-7 (ESV)
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of 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 may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
- According to Paul, who determined that he would be an apostle (vs. 1)?
- From verses 1-4, list observations about who God is, and what he does and gives.
- What does it mean to “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings” (vs. 5)? What might be some of the emotions one would feel similar to what Christ felt when he suffered?
- With what hope did Paul encourage the saints who endure suffering (vss. 5-7)?
- Are you currently going through something traumatic or of great difficulty? If so, where are you finding strength to endure?
RESPOND TO GOD
One of the most beautiful characteristics about our God, is that he suffered. God did not exempt himself from suffering. He chose instead to endure pain, experience agony, and feel discomfort. A great comfort we have from Christ is that HE KNOWS! He has been there, felt your pain… and HE CARES. This is God with us! This is Jesus! He got down on our turf. Had his face rubbed in the dirt of our pain. Experienced the crush of our agonies. He did not stand at a distance but jumped into our world.
- Ask God to reveal how your current hardship is sharing in Christ’s sufferings, and how you might reflect him as you endure it.