“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.” Do you agree with these words?
It seems like a dark outlook spoken in a season of grief.
These are the words of the ancient patriarch, Job. But many echo his sentiment.
Many feel that life is short and full of problems.
Sometimes those who become Christians think that it should minimize their troubles. After all, we have God with us! God is for us! What could be against us? Should we expect God to protect us from hardships? Shouldn’t life be easier?
No. Being a Christian does not erase the challenges and troubles of this life
Jesus said, “In this world you shall have trouble” (John 16:33). Paul reminded new believers, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
Yet never forget that trouble and hardship cannot separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). Don’t fall into the trap of measuring God’s love for you by the presence or absence of suffering. And, when you suffer, remember that, “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble” (Nahum 1:7). “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).
No stranger to hardship
The Apostle Paul does not speak theoretically about suffering. He was no stranger to trouble and hardship. From the beginning of his walk with Christ he was set for these experiences by the Lord Jesus himself. The Lord said, “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15-16).
The most extensive list of Paul’s hardships and suffering is found in (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Take a moment and read it.
One of the main themes of the NT book of 2 Corinthians is God’s comfort in our affliction and suffering. This theme reaches all people because we all go through hardships and difficulties.
Some members of the church in Corinth (like the apostle Paul himself) are called to suffer more than others. Yet we can all make strong connections with this letter to the Corinthians because the truths reach our experiences and teach us about the way God relates to our suffering.
The primary occasion for an emphasis on God’s comfort and purposes in suffering was the accusation by Paul’s opponents in Corinth — claiming that his suffering calls into suspicion his apostleship.
It’s an old accusation suggesting that a person’s hardships are a sign of God’s displeasure. In this case, it was being used to accomplish a very evil and subversive purpose of discrediting God’s apostle. The intention of the accusers was to take over his place of leadership in the church at Corinth.
A treasure for those who suffer
Although II Corinthians is a letter to a specific Church from long ago, like the rest of Scripture, truths emerge that reach all people in all places at all times. This book is a divine treasure for suffering people.
Paul opens his letter praising God for the very thing his opponents are using to discredit his ministry. Paul, reveals God as an active presence in his suffering.
An active presence in hardships and suffering.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 – a God-centered focus for our troubles. Here we find truth about who God is, what God does and why He does it – all related to our suffering.
- Verse 3 focuses on who God is – “He is the God of all comfort”
- Verse 4a focuses on what God does – “comforts us in all our troubles”
- Verse 4b focuses on God’s purpose in what he does – “So that we can comfort those in any trouble”
Schooled in comfort
Our God is so personal that He meets us in our troubles and comforts us through them. God invites us into His school of comfort where we study His ministry and methods of comfort to equip us to be His agents of comfort to others.
Whatever God does in us and for us is meant to reach beyond us to others. Without this perspective we will not experience God’s comforting presence in our suffering.
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).
The people who know God can say with confidence, “The Lord is my Shepherd.” It’s a very personal relationship. And because the Lord is my Shepherd, I can say, (Psalm 23:4) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Let’s be good students of divine comfort as the Great Teacher prepares us for ministries of comfort to others.