Scripture Passage: 2 Corinthians 1:1-22 based on the LCMS Daily Lectionary for August 23
Meditation: While we wish it were otherwise, avoiding trouble isn’t always possible. Paul speaks about this, using words like: “sufferings,” “distressed,” and “hardships”. Unwanted tragedies come into our lives at the most unexpected times. How do we deal with these unavoidable troubles?
Paul begins with God. If we’re believers, God is central to our lives and experience. He is the author and sustainer of our lives. Yet, in our distress, he is more than that. He is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us…” (3-4). He is with us and helps us!
The source of our comfort in the Father and the means of that comfort is Christ. Paul says, “… through Christ our comfort overflows” (5). Just as we share in the sufferings of Christ, we also share in his comfort. I don’t know if you really heard my last sentence? We share in the sufferings of Christ. We share in his troubles. There is a purpose in this that is often missed.
What is the purpose of our suffering? First, Paul gives two general statements. He reminds us that “it is for your comfort and salvation… which produces in you patient endurance” (6). Troubles allow us to receive comfort and develop endurance. Also, we not only share in the sufferings and comfort of Christ, we also comfort others with the comfort we’ve received (4). This doesn’t mean that we enjoy suffering, but that it is meaningful in our lives and in others lives as well.
The purpose of our suffering actually goes one step further. It teaches us “that we might not rely on ourselves but on God…” (9). While painful emotionally, spiritually, and possibly, physically, we “set our hope on him” that he will continue to work in our lives (10). If we ever reach a place of true honesty, we realize that self-reliance is an illusion anyway. We desire to be in control, and God may allow us to think that we are in control for a time, but the reality is that our control fantasy eventually disappears. It may be a sudden experience or a slow fade, but either way, it vanishes.
The best time to read this devotional and hear this Scripture is probably when you’re not in the midst of suffering. The message of hoping in God and sharing in Christ’s suffering may not seem too comforting then. Then again, it may help us to receive God’s comfort, and the comfort of other believers, when we are experiencing hardship. While we would like to avoid trouble, avoidance isn’t always an option.
Meditate on God’s Word. Draw close to God each day. Listen to His Word for you.
Living the Word Today seeks to provide brief devotional thoughts for daily living from a passage of Scripture. It is not meant to be academic exegesis, but a humble attempt to listen to God’s voice through His written Word.
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.