Before we dive into 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, we need to define a couple terms: “affliction and “comfort.” In the context of our passage today, they can be defined like this:
- Affliction – suffering and burden beyond what our strength can handle.
- Comfort – the God-given ability to endure affliction by abandoning our own strength and relying on God.
If you’re feeling afflicted right now, the place to start is always with God. We tend to get bogged down because we try to start with ourselves and our own situation. But, as Christians, we need to turn to God in our affliction and remember who He is.
This is what 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reminds us of.
Who God Is
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort …– 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God is the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He was the one who comforted Jesus when he was suffering beyond what His human body could handle. And He is the same Father who comforts us in our affliction.
He is also “the Father of mercies.” This means that He’s not just doling out what we deserve. If He did that, we’d have been dead a long time ago. As it is, He put what we deserve on Jesus and instead gives us mercy.
Also in verse 3, we see that God is the “God of all comfort.” This springboards us into 10 truths about affliction and comfort. For the next couple weeks, we’ll be looking at these truths. But today we’ll just focus on the first two:
- God comforts us in all our affliction
- God comforts us so that we can comfort others.
God Comforts Us in All Our Affliction
In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, you can rely on the fact that God comforts us in our affliction. Not just some affliction, though – He “comforts us in all our affliction” (v. 4).
God is a good Father, and He isn’t selective in what affliction He is willing to comfort. He comforts us in both big afflictions and small afflictions. All affliction hurts and God always cares and always wants to comfort us.
Think about yourself right now. What affliction are you experiencing that you can go to God for comfort? It might be complications related to aging. It might be relational pain. Or maybe it’s stress or anxiety brought on by this coronavirus. Write down specific points, and then pray through each of them.
God will comfort you in your affliction. That doesn’t necessarily mean that He will remove the affliction. He often has awesome plans for His children that include them suffering (see “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Godly People?“). However, going back to our definition of comfort, He will enable us to endure our afflictions when we rely on Him.
Whatever affliction you’re going through, if you are a Christian, God will comfort you. He will give you encouragement, peace and the strength to endure.
God Comforts Us So That We Can Comfort Others
Besides giving us comfort, God comforts us so that we can comfort others. That’s what verse 4 says:
“[God comforts us] 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.”– 2 Corinthians 1:4
Paul (the one who wrote 2 Corinthians) suffered a lot. To the Corinthian church, this made him seem unpolished, not as put-together and likely not as qualified as other ministers. However, Paul’s suffering was what made him legitimate as a minister.
We are often drawn to leaders who appear to have it all together. But God’s best ministers are often those who have suffered a lot and received His comfort.
There is another dimension to this truth about affliction, though:
How can you as an individual Christian comfort others during this troubling time? What comfort have you received from God, and how can you share it? How can we as a church move beyond good intentions and pursue action?
Also, what needs do you have right now? How can your fellow Christians share comfort with you?
Where Do You Turn for Comfort?
When looking for comfort, we tend to skip going to God and turn toward lesser sources. We go to our friends, food, entertainment, hard work, or vacations. These things are good, but if they keep us away from turning to God, then they should be avoided.
Ask yourself this: “What do I turn to for comfort in my affliction? Does it turn me inward or outward? Does it only relieve my affliction, or does it relieve others’ too?”
This coronavirus pandemic is a perfect opportunity for us to live out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Whatever affliction you may be facing right now, look first to God for comfort – not the news, friends, stockpiling, etc. He will enable you to endure when you rely on Him. And be looking for ways to share the comfort you have received with others.
> Sermon aired on Facebook Live – Sunday, Mar. 15, 11:00 AM. Devotionals will be livestreamed on our Facebook group, weekdays @ 3:00 PM.
- What kind of affliction are you facing right now?
- Where do you tend to turn for comfort?
- How has God brought you comfort in the past?
- How can you share God’s comfort with others?