So far in our study of 2 Corinthians, we’ve seen seven out of 10 truths about affliction and comfort. These were:
- God comforts us in all our affliction.
- God comforts us so that we can comfort others.
- Great suffering comes with great comfort.
- Affliction and comfort have purpose.
- We suffer and take comfort together.
- Christian suffering can be severe.
- Suffering makes us rely on God.
Today, we’re going to look at the final three truths. These come from 2 Corinthians 1:10-11, and they’re pretty straight-forward.
We Hope in God’s Deliverance
The eighth truth about affliction and comfort is that we hope in God’s deliverance. Verse 10 says:
[God] delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.– 2 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
Christian hope is not wishful thinking. It’s not the kind of hope someone has when they buy a lottery ticket. It is the kind of hope you have in the sunrise. You’re certain and hopeful that, no matter how dark the night is, the sun will eventually rise. Christian hope is anticipation of something we’re sure is going to happen.
As Christians, we can look back to the past and remember God’s promises and how He always proved faithful. We can take hold of those memories and look to the future, knowing God has promised to continue His faithfulness. This 360-perspective gives us security and hope.
Even in the midst of affliction, remember that God has seen you through before. He’ll see you through in the future too.
Now you might be thinking, “Weren’t there times when God didn’t deliver His people from suffering?” But it’s important to remember that God’s timing, ways and purposes are higher than ours. It might seem good to us to have our suffering removed right now, but He might know better. His awesome purposes may require us to suffer longer than we’d like.
God always delivers His people from suffering – and He does it in the way that is best. We can hope in His deliverance.
We don’t just have to hope in God’s deliverance. We can pray. The apostle Paul requested of the Corinthian Christians, “You also must help us by prayer” (v. 11a).
When we’re afflicted, we should ask others to pray for us. We also should pray for those in affliction. This is one way that we come together and work through the struggles of everyday Christian life.
Maybe you’re really good at praying for others, but you like to keep your own affliction to yourself. Let this be a corrective – sharing prayer needs is an essential part of Christian life. If you’re not very good at praying for others, work at it. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer.
Prayer Makes Praise
It’s not that God needs your prayer. He doesn’t need you to bring things to His attention as if He didn’t already know about them. But God wants you to pray to Him. Why? Because prayer generates praise.
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.– 2 Corinthians 1:11 (ESV)
God wants us to pray because He wants us to praise Him. And He wants many people to pray about the same thing so that many people will praise Him when He comes through. The more praying, the more praising.
This is just another beautiful example of how God designed us to live.
How Do These 10 Truths Apply to Life?
What would it look like for these 10 truths about affliction and comfort to be fully functioning in your life? Imagine a scenario in which you’re really stressed out. With that situation in mind, remember:
- God comforts you in your affliction. He cares about your stress and will comfort you. You can draw near to Him.
- God comforts you so you can comfort others. He will not only help you feel better, but will also help you to make others feel better. So in your stress, don’t just be thinking all about yourself – look at the people around you. Find ways to comfort them.
- Great suffering comes with great comfort. No matter how intense your stress gets, know that God will answer it with an equal amount of comfort.
- Your affliction and comfort have purpose. Your stress is not meaningless or vain. God is using it to bring about a greater purpose.
- Christians suffer and take comfort together. There are other people who are experiencing stress – comfort them. There are also others who have already been comforted – they can comfort you. You’re not alone in your affliction.
- Your suffering can get severe. Don’t think that the Christian life isn’t going to be hard. And don’t have unrealistic expectations about your suffering. Your stress might get worse before it gets better.
- Your suffering makes you rely on God. No matter how severe your stress might get, you can always rely on God. This is one good purpose for your suffering – to help you trust in Him more.
- Hope in God’s deliverance. Think back and remember times when God delivered you from other stressful situations. And look to the future – be certain that He will see you through this.
- Prayer helps. In the midst of all your stress, ask others to pray for you.
- Prayer makes praise. Keep in mind who’s praying for you so that when God proves faithful, you can praise God with them.
That’s how this works in everyday life. Whatever you may be going through during this COVID-19 crisis, remember these truths.