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Father of Compassion

Father of Compassion

Words of Faith 8-22-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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2 Corinthians 1

   [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 have received from God.

 

       So what is this second letter to the Corinthians going to be about? The letter deals frankly with "troubles" but not just with troubles. It deals with compassion and comfort that is found in the Lord and spills over to others. It is not a "triumphal" set of scriptures, but it exposes the real meaning of victory and the God who carries us to that place no matter what.

       As a popular book, Second Corinthians would be turned down by most publishers, but it is one of the most frank and careful expositions regarding the meaning of and dealing with pressures, distresses and life difficulties.

         While this letter is not expressly about "suffering" such as the book of Job, it delves deeply into one of the many paradoxes of the Christian life, that the grace of God is most keenly experienced not in the best but in what seem to be the worst of times. No matter how much a Christian longs for exaltation, it is often in humiliation that we find grace.

         To understand the core of this letter we might paint a target around a verse we are headed toward in chapter 12-- "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Cor. 12:9). That theme pervades this letter and finds poignant expression in Paul's thanksgiving here at the outset.

         So why study about troubles? A clinical supervisor I once had said to a small group of ministerial students-- "If you learn to be with people who are in pain and grief, you will be able to minister to everyone in your congregation." The truth is that we will all experience pain and grief. We will all go through troubles.

         Paul makes it clear that as we get to know the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles we will be able to comfort those in any kind of trouble with what we have received from God.

         These "troubles" will be mentioned nine times by Paul in this letter. The word thlipsei means pressures or distresses and is sometimes translated troubles or hardships. Paul also used the corresponding verb thlibo three additional times in this letter-- distressed, hard-pressed or harassed.

        Troubles are experienced by all Christians. The Apostle Paul probably endured more pressures than nearly all his readers. Troubles are not without meaning and purpose. These pressures help us shift our perspective from the external and temporal to the internal and eternal-- "Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead" (1:9). "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (4:17-18).

        But this letter, along with all of Scripture, is ultimately about GOD. It glorifies God and reveals His wonder. The source of all comfort in the midst of troubles is God Himself, to whom Paul gave three titles: the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father (the Originator) of compassion, and the God of all comfort. This same God had sustained Paul through his suffering and delivered him from it. This same God is here for you and for me.

       We are going to learn about "compassion". This word is used only four other times in the New Testament. It is rendered as "mercy" in other places. Just as spiritual gifts are not intended solely for the recipients' benefit but are to be used in turn for the service of others, so also the comfort received from God enables believers to comfort others. The comfort of God is channeled through people and by means of prayer.

       So this season of devotions is going to be about troubles and the way that God ministers to us His compassion so that we may minister that compassion to others. Are you on for the ride? Are you ready to grow?

 

       Father God-- Father of compassion and God of all comfort, touch me with Your compassion at the point of my need in the midst of the troubles. Gently heal me with Your mercy. Make me a vessel of compassion for others. In Jesus' Name.