2 Corinthians 1:8,9 - Comfort In Suffering
2 Cor 1:8 (NIV) We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the
hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure,
far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.
2 Cor 1:9 (NIV) Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But
this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the
Paul had personally experienced the comfort of God in the midst of the
greatest sufferings, as well as His deliverance from a life-threatening
experience. To express the anguish he had felt Paul uses a number of words
with which many of us can identify: "tribulation" (v. 4), "sufferings" (v.
5), "afflicted" (v. 6), "burdened", "despaired" (v. 8), and "sentence of
death" (v. 9). [Believer's SB]
Paul reserves his strongest expressions for mental anguish rather than
physical danger and suffering. [SDA Commentary]
Paul's stoning at Lystra did most evidently destroy his life, so that his
being raised was an effect of the miraculous power of God; (Adam Clarke
Paul's hardships were so life-threatening that he regarded his survival and
recovery as tantamount to being raised from the dead. [NIV SB]
"All sunshine makes a desert." The danger of prosperity is that it
encourages a false independence; it makes us think that we are well able to
handle life alone. For every one prayer that rises to God in days of
prosperity, ten thousand rise in days of adversity. As Lincoln had it, "I
have often been driven to my knees in prayer because I had nowhere else to
go." It is often in misfortune that a man finds out who are his true
friends, and it often needs some time of adversity to show us how much we
The outcome was that Paul had an unshakable confidence in God. He knew now
beyond all argument what he could do for him. If God could bring him through
that, he could bring him through anything. The joyful cry of the Psalmist
is, "Thou hast delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet
from stumbling." (Ps 116:8.) What really converted John Bunyan was when he
heard some old women sitting in the sun "talking about what God had done for
their souls." The confidence of the Christian in God is not a thing of
theory and speculation; it is a thing of fact and experience. He knows what
God has done for him and therefore he is not afraid. [Barclay Commentary]
All men have a strong tendency to trust in themselves, a tendency that is
most difficult to overcome. It took "the sentence of death" and "a thorn in
the flesh" before Paul overcame it. Israel's experiences on the way from
Egypt to Canaan were designed to teach Israel this fundamental lesson. God
often permits His people to experience dire straits in order that they may
come to realize their own insufficiency and be induced to trust and hope in
His sufficiency. Trials are requisite to Christian experience (Acts 14:22).
It is fundamental to man's salvation that he learn to rely wholly upon
Christ. Confidence in God is an essential factor in day-by-day Christian
living. It is often in the fiery furnace that men learn to walk side by side
with the Son of God. [SDA Commentary]
We have come a long way in our Christian lives when we learn to put faith in
God alone and not in self, circumstances, or men. . The believer who fears
the Lord and lives to please Him enjoys peace and confidence even in the
midst of trouble. What a lesson to learn! [Wiersbe Expository Outlines]
Christians will suffer because of their strong identity with Christ. The
Bible says that Christ learned obedience from what he suffered; see Why did
Jesus need to learn obedience through suffering? (Heb. 5:8). Why then should
his disciples expect anything less?
Our suffering is, in fact, a link to Jesus Christ. Though he was the Son of
God, he endured the frustrations of the flesh while living in a sinful
world. We still live in that fallen world and feel the tension caused by its
influence. Some face severe physical pain. Others encounter intense
emotional battles. But because Jesus lives within us, he shares the pains,
the sorrows and the frustrations we feel. He joins with us in our suffering
and - even more encouraging - he also offers us comfort.
But Christ shares with us, not just in a spiritual sense, but in another
sense - through other believers. Paul speaks of an overflow of comfort that
goes from one to another. At times we may have difficulty feeling Christ's
comfort. But others can encourage us with their physical presence, sharing
our pain and offering comfort in tangible, practical ways. Their spiritual
strength can flow into our lives, not as pat answers, but as genuine grace.
As part of our lives, their empathy, confidence and hope in Christ will lift
Christians may go through some tough times. But they should never have to go
through them alone. [Quest SB]
"LIFE IS DIFFICULT!" With these three words Scott Peck begins his
bestselling book The Road Less Traveled But in 2 Corinthians Paul says this
and more. Just where life is difficult, where our relationships are
strained, where our competence is questioned, where our health and security
are threatened God makes himself known in powerful comfort. We discover that
one of the supreme greatnesses of Christianity is that it does not seek a
supernatural escape from the difficulties of life. Instead it offers a
supernatural use for them. Troubles become triumphs as God makes himself
known in our weakness. [Quiet Time SB]
It has been well said that "earthly cares are a heavenly discipline." But
they are even something better than discipline, - they are God's chariots,
sent to take the soul to its high places of triumph.
Everything that comes to us becomes a chariot the moment we treat it as
such; and on the other hand, even the smallest trials may be a Juggernaut
car to crush us into misery or despair if we so consider them. It lies with
each of us to choose which they shall be....
Look upon your chastenings then, no matter how grievous they may be for the
present, as God's chariots sent to carry your souls into the "high places"
of spiritual achievement and uplifting, and you will find that they are,
after all, "paved with love."
The Bible tells us that when God went forth for the salvation of His people,
then He "did ride upon His horses and chariots of salvation." And it is the
same now. Everything becomes a "chariot of salvation" when God rides upon
it. He maketh even the "clouds his chariot," we are told, and "rideth on the
wings of the wind." Therefore the clouds and storms that darken our skies
and seem to shut out the shining of the sun of righteousness are really only
God's chariots, into which we may mount with Him, and "ride prosperously"
over all the darkness. Hannah Whitall Smith [Time With God SB]
All comforts come from God, and our sweetest comforts are in him. He speaks
peace to souls by granting the free remission of sins; and he comforts them
by the enlivening influences of the Holy Spirit, and by the rich mercies of
his grace. He is able to bind up the broken-hearted, to heal the most
painful wounds, and also to give hope and joy under the heaviest sorrows.
The favours God bestows on us, are not only to make us cheerful, but also
that we may be useful to others. [Matthew Henry Commentary]
We may have very little to give our friends; but, however little of this
world's goods we possess, we may give them the priceless treasure of our
prayers. [Barclay Commentary]
God is our source of power, and we receive his help by keeping in touch with
him. With this attitude, problems will drive us to God rather than away from
him. Learn how to rely on God daily. [Life Application SB]
Paul learned to rely on the "comfort" he had found in God (see on ch. 1:4).
Paul was an apostle. But he was also a human being. Because he suffered, he
came to know God's comfort as a reality in his life. [The 365-Day Devotional
God's comfort and deliverance are certainties, even in the middle of
difficult trials. [Inspirational SB]
God's grace is all-sufficient, and our weakness is precisely the d of our
finiteness. We don't know the future, we don't know the relationship between
events, and we certainly don't know why.
But we do know that God is good and all-knowing - nothing catches him by
surprise, not the car out of control, the malignant tumor, the hurricane, or
the disease. So even as we wonder and question the reason and cause for each
event, we can be confident that God knows and that in everything, even the
senseless tragedy, he is working. (From On Eagle's Wings by Dave Veerman)
Give your whole being to God without holding back and without doubting. He
will prove himself to you, and work in you that which is pleasing in His
sight through Jesus Christ. Keep His ways as you know them in the Word.
Keep His ways, as nature teaches them, in always doing what appear right.
Keep His ways as providence points them out. Keep His ways as the Holy
Spirit suggests. Do not think of waiting on God while you say you are not
willing to walk in His path. However weak you feel, only be willing, and he
who has worked to will, will work to do by His power....
So come with every temptation you feel in yourself, every memory of
unwillingness, unwatchfulness, unfaithfulness, and all that causes your
unceasing self-condemnation. Put your powerlessness in God's almighty
power, and find in waiting on God your deliverance. [Andrew Murray; Time
with God devotional SB]