But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;2 Corinthians 1:6(NASB)
Jesus suffered and was afflicted for the sake of righteousness, and He warned that in this world we too would suffer tribulation. But He also gave us great comfort and encouragement with the words, "but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."
Paul was a man who followed in his Masters footsteps. He too experienced much pain and suffering because he was faithful to his calling, sharing the good news of the gospel of God throughout Asia.
He endured hunger and thirst, beatings and imprisonments, stonings and shipwrecks, and encountered various dangers and disappointments from every segment of society, including some from within the Body of Christ. But Paul understood that all who live godly, share the good news of the gospel of Christ, and challenge those that are perverting the truth, will suffer persecution.
On occasions, he feared for his life... and at other times he was concerned for spiritual growth within the Body of Christ for whom he laboured so tirelessly. Nevertheless, Paul was quick to recognise the supernatural consolation he received from the great God of all comforts.
Paul acknowledged that the Lord is able and willing to give comfort and encouragement to each of us in all our troubles - so that we are able to give solace and support to those who are in any kind of difficulty - through the comfort that we ourselves have received from above.
Paul recognised the wonderful outflow of consolation and salvation that his brothers and sisters in Christ received because of his own suffering, and wrote, "if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation." Oh! - not salvation to the saving of the soul. Salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ's sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection alone. The consolation and 'salvation' in this verse is in connection with the Christian's sanctification process... in which we are given spiritual strength and godly help to press forward to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Just as the sufferings of Christ brought salvation (justification) and comfort to those who believe - so too the suffering and pain that we endure for the sake of righteousness, will be beneficial for the sanctification and comfort of others in their spiritual growth. It will have a 'knock-on' effect... so that the comfort we receive from the Lord will pour forth godly comfort and encouragement to others - which will have an impact on their Christian growth and spiritual well-being.
No matter what Paul faced in the spreading of the gospel, he was able to be joyful in tribulation and trace a rainbow through his tears. Paul understood that the comfort he shared with others would help to advance their spiritual growth and develop in them, patient endurance and other godly characteristics, to the glory of God.
When we are called upon, by our heavenly Lord, to suffer persecution and pain, may we also, like Paul, have the grace to be joyful in our tribulation and allow the beautiful comfort that we receive from our heavenly Father to freely flow-out to others from us - so that they too may be comforted with the same comfort that we have received - so that they too may be enabled to patiently endure whatever difficulties they may have to go through - as together we journey through life, towards our heavenly destination.
Heavenly Father, thank You that no matter what sufferings and pain I may be called upon to face, help me to rejoice in my suffering, knowing that You are a God of great comfort and that Your grace is sufficient. I pray that my life and witness may be a comfort and encouragement to others so that we may all attain to the unity of the faith, and increase in a knowledge of the Son of God. I pray that that we may all come to a mature man and attain a measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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