Our Advocate When Comfort Is Needed.

We can receive comfort from others in dark times. This is one of God's good gifts to us. But there is only one place to find soul rest. Jesus is the exclusive source of ultimate comfort.

There comes a time when we reach the end of human comfort. No created being can give ultimately fulfilling joy. God is the exclusive Father of mercy and comfort because He is our eternal Creator. Charles Spurgeon said, "The Lord's mercy often rides to the door of our heart on the black horse of affliction."

We are working our way through 3 sections of 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. Last week, we considered "An Announcement that Gives Confidence."

An Advocacy that Strengthens Our Hearts

In this letter, Paul uses 5 out of the 10 available Greek words for suffering. The first, translated "affliction" in 2 Corinthians 1:4, means to be hemmed in a narrow place and under pressure. It's the most common word for suffering in the New Testament and is also translated "tribulation" or "trouble."

There are several ways God brings comfort to His people.

  • Removing the affliction from our lives
  • Removing us from the affliction
  • Relief in the affliction
  • Encouragement from fellow believers in Christ
  • Comforting work of the Holy Spirit

Encouragement from Christian friends is wonderful, but time spent with God in His Word is essential, especially when we are in a trial. God always brings comfort to His people. Many authors of familiar hymns suffered from physical ailments and wrote hymns out of the comfort they received from their personal walk with God.

The word translated "sufferings" in 2 Corinthians 1:5 often refers to physical suffering or suffering that affects one's whole person. This experience is identified as being shared with the suffering of Christ. Paul always considered his own pain as belonging to Christ first. This could refer to persecution or mistreatment. When our Savior causes us to walk morally, counter to the culture, old friends may feel uncomfortable and withdraw from us (1 Peter 4:2-5). This pain can give us an opportunity to share who has made such a difference in our lives (1 Peter 3:15).

The suffering of Christ leads us to remember what the week of Palm Sunday commemorates. Jesus died for our sin so that we might die to sin (Hebrews 2:14-18, 1 Peter 2:21-25). He is our example and our victory over sin and its consequence of death. Jesus' suffering far outweighs ours – and for that, we give thanks!

An Awareness that Refreshes

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Application Points

  • In what ways have you found joy in connecting with other people lately? If you find that joy, wonderful as it is, hasn't ultimately satisfied you, please consider Jesus. He can bring joy and satisfaction to your soul. Only He can because He is God.
  • Has Jesus Christ transformed your life? Has He made a noticeable difference? Pray that He would give opportunity to tell people why you are different now.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Philippians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Psalm 116:15 – Even death can be God's deliverance from affliction.
  • 1 Peter 4:12-13 – Sharing the suffering of Christ.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Sweet Hour of Prayer"

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
May I thy consolation share,
Till, from Mount Pisgah’s lofty height,
I view my home and take my flight.
This robe of flesh I’ll drop, and rise
To seize the everlasting prize,
And shout, while passing through the air,
“Farewell, farewell, sweet hour of prayer!”