Faithlife Sermons

God's Comfort In Suffering

2 Corinthians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Suffering Is A Part Of Life

Suffering is universal. No one is exempt from suffering. It comes in many different forms and various degrees. Suffering is just an element of life that we experience in our lives. Jesus puts it this way.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Paul was no stranger to suffering. Everywhere he went he had to endure it. As a matter of fact it was part of his ministry
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.” Acts 9:15-16
Paul was called to endure suffering for the cause of Christ. The types of suffering Paul was called to were physical, emotional, and spiritual. Physically Paul was beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned, and shipwrecked. Emotionally he had friends that would desert, betray, and slander him. Spiritually he was given a thorn in the flesh that God would not take away. Paul was an active participant in sufferiong.

Application

Suffering is a part of life for all people. I am almost sure that everyone in this room has suffered or is suffering. I know that I have sufferings that I must deal with daily as do many of you. This concept that life is suppose to be free of suffering is unrealistic. Some people believe that it is God’s job to keep us from having to suffer. This is false theology.
What is suffering? the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. All of us have probably had pain. Pain can be both physical and emotional. Distress are those things in our lives that bring stress to our lives. Hardships are those situations that are undesirable and we must endure.

God Comforts us in our suffering

Paul mentions that God is a God of all comfort. The only time we can experience the comfort of God are in times of suffering. What is comfort? a state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint. the easing or alleviation of a person's feelings of grief or distress.
So as Paul mentions that suffering is part of life so is God’s comfort. If you are looking for a formula, it goes something like this. You will have suffering in your life that only God can ease the pain, distress, or hardship. This is good news!

Limitations To God’s Comfort.

For just as the sufferings of Christ are [c]ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 2 Cor. 1:5
God brings comfort to those sufferings that are for Christ and His purpose. What I mean by this is that there are some forms of suffering that we bring on ourselves because of our sin. We should not expect that God will bring us comfort from the consequences of our sin. It is God who has allowed the suffering for our sin. It is meant to drive us to repentance and learn not to sin again. It is kind of like the spanking you got as a kid. It was meant to teach you a lesson.
There are sufferings that God will comfort us in for being a Christian. Being a Christian in today’s world will bring persecution and suffering. The world tolerates everything except Christianity. The world will label you as a bigot and persecute you for standing up for a Biblical world view. They will prosecute you, slander you, threaten you, and in some extreme cases will harm or kill you.
So why do we continue to stand? Because God comforts us to the proportion that we suffer for Christ. The pain that others cause us is mitigated by the comfort that God gives us.
There are also sufferings that God allows into our lives for personal development and benefit of others
who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in [b]any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Cor. 1:4
There are times in our lives where God wants us to experience His comfort in a way that deepens our relationship with Him so we can be a blessing to others. I have seen this to be very evident in our congregation. I have seen many of you go through very difficult things in your lives. I must confess I often ask God why this is happening? I am starting to learn to stop asking that question because if I am patient I will see why. The reason is a deeper commitment you have to God and it is preparing you to minister to someone who is going through the same thing you went through. The strongest relationships in this church are with those who have had similar struggles. This is because you have also comforted one another with the comfort that God has given you!
and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 2 Cor. 1:7

Suffering Is Meant For Us To Trust In God

Paul makes reference to a degree of suffering that forced him to trust in God.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in [d]Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; [e]indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, [f]He on whom we have set our hope. 2 Cor. 1:8-10
We are not told what this suffering was but that it was so severe that they worried about their own survival. Paul says that the burden was so excessive that it went beyond his strength to endure it. It was in this excessive suffering that they had to trust in God and have hope in Him.
There are some degrees of suffering that people will go through that just don’t make sense. It goes beyond their ability to handle. The circumstances are so extreme that their is no release from the pain that they endure. The only thing they have is hope in God who raises from the dead. This does not happen often. I have only seen it a handful of times in my 10 years of ministering here at Prospect. I have seen some that have remained faithful and I have seen some that were so consumed with the pain that they distanced themselves from God.
I can honestly say that those who have remained faithful to the Lord have a relationship with Him that cannot be shaken. They are rock solid in their faith and love for Jesus. He is all they have and all they need.

Conclusion

Suffering is not a bad thing. It can be used for your good, the good of others, and the Glory of God.
You may be in a season of suffering right now. I don’t want to trivialize the pain you are going through. It is real and it is tough! I do encourage you to ask God what He intends for this time of suffering. You will find comfort in His answer!
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