Praise to the God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,

Paul does not give details about their hardships in Asia, although his accounts of all three missionary journeys record many difficult trials he faced (Acts 13:2—14:28; Acts 15:40—21:17). He does write that they felt that they were going to die, and realized that they could do nothing to help themselves—they simply had to rely on God.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

We often depend on our own skills and abilities when life seems easy, but we turn to God when we feel unable to help ourselves. Depending on God is a realization of our own powerlessness without Him and our need for His constant touch in our lives. God is our source of power, and we receive His help by keeping in touch with Him. With this attitude of dependence, problems will drive us to God rather than away from Him. Learn how to rely on God daily.

Differences Between 1 and 2 Corinthians

The two letters to the Corinthian church that we find in the Bible are very different, with different tones and focuses.

Differences Between 1 and 2 Corinthians

1 Corinthians/Practical

Focuses on the character of the Corinthian church

Deals with questions on marriage, freedom, spiritual gifts, and order in the church

Paul instructs in matters concerning the church’s well-being

Contains advice to help the church combat the pagan influences in the wicked city of Corinth

2 Corinthians/Personal

Focuses on Paul as he bares his soul and tells of his love for the Corinthian church

Deals with the problem of false teachers, whereby Paul defends his authority and the truth of his message

Paul gives his testimony because he knows that acceptance of his advice is vital to the church’s well-being

Contains testimony to help the church combat the havoc caused by false teachers

Experiencing Difficulties That Help Us Grow

Experiencing Difficulties That Help Us Grow

Romans 5:3-4

3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.

James 1:3-4

3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2 Peter 1:6

6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;

Revelation 2:2

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know
that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those
who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.

Revelation 2:19

19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and
perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

A Privilege to Suffer for Christ

Philippians 1:29

29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,

Philippians 3:10

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

A Privilege to Suffer for Christ

Praise to the God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:6-7

6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Paul had a radically different view of suffering. Suffering—especially trials and discomfort associated with the advancement of Christ’s kingdom—is God’s way of allowing Christians to become more like Jesus, to suffer for the gospel just as Jesus suffered for it. Peter agreed with Paul: Christians should rejoice when they suffer, for in their own suffering they will in some small way experience what it meant for Jesus to suffer for their sins.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

In addition to drawing people closer to Christ, suffering can also help them grow in their faith. God uses suffering to improve His people and shape them into better Christians. In fact, suffering should be thought of as the necessary pain that accompanies spiritual growth. In Romans, Paul noted that suffering produces perseverance, which, in turn, produces Christian character. This passage highlights another benefit to suffering: It teaches the sufferer how to encourage others who are also suffering.

Saul’s Conversion

Acts 9:1-19

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

“Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.

Saul’s Conversion

Praise to the God of All Comfort

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away. But if that were always so, people would turn to God only out of a desire to be relieved of pain and not out of love for Him. We must understand that being comforted can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with our troubles. The more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us. If you are feeling overwhelmed, allow God to comfort you. Remember that every trial you endure will help you comfort other people who are suffering similar troubles.

Praise to the God of All Comfort

The “sufferings of Christ” are those afflictions we experience as we do Christ’s ministry. At the same time, Christ suffers with His people, since they are united with Him. In Acts 9:4-5, Christ asked Paul why he was persecuting Him. This implies that Christ suffered with the early Christians when they were persecuted.

The Need for Self-Discipline

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The Need for Self-Discipline