Yesterday, we began looking at 10 truths about comfort and affliction. We saw that God comforts us in our affliction. But that comfort is not just for us – it’s for us to share with others. Today, we’re going to look at another truth about comfort and affliction:
Great Christian suffering comes with great Christian comfort.
Christians Experience a Certain Type of Suffering
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, the word “affliction” carries the idea of “pressure.” In 2 Corinthians 1:5, though, Paul gets more specific. That word “affliction” here is translated as “suffering” and refers particularly to Christian suffering.
For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.– 2 Corinthians 1:5
We have all experienced suffering at some point in our lives, and may be experiencing it right now. It might be sickness, pain, regret or loss of a job. Suffering is just part of life in this fallen world.
Christians experience affliction and suffering just like non-Christians. However, we know that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). And, unlike non-Christians, Christians also experience Christian suffering. That’s what Paul means by “share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings.”
Paul experienced a lot of Christian suffering (see Acts 9:16, Colossians 1:24, 2 Corinthians 4:7-12). He experienced a lifestyle of self-giving, self-denying, pick-up-your-cross-and-follow-Jesus type of suffering. This is the Christian lifestyle.
Christian Suffering Is Part of the Christian Life
Suffering is usually something we try to avoid at all costs. But Christian suffering is something to rejoice in. It continues Jesus’s self-giving DNA into the year 2020, into this COVID-19 situation and everywhere we go.
All the great things we’re called to do as Christians involve suffering. And that’s not a bad thing.
Many people think that Christianity is an escape from suffering. It’s more accurate, though, to think of it as an embrace of suffering for Christ’s sake. We as Christians share abundantly in His suffering. But we also share abundantly in His comfort.
To wrap things up . . .
This COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect opportunity to embrace this self-sacrificial, Christian lifestyle. We need to let everything that triggers fear in non-Christians trigger ministry in us.
So ask yourself: “How can I wisely give myself for the sake of others right now? How can we do this as a church?”
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