Words of Faith 8-23-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 1
 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  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.  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.
What do we do with suffering? Paul is clear about several things. Suffering is not a sign that God has abandoned us. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is not an indication that we have failed. It does not show the disfavor or God or lack of faith on the part of the believer who suffers. The suffering of a believer has a purpose and is part of the redemptive work of God in Christ.
The sufferings Paul experienced were not accidental. They were a consequence of his relationship to Christ. Jesus predicted this-- "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me" (Matt. 5:11).
Paul affirmed this to the believers at Colosse-- "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church" (1:24).
As Paul continued to preach the gospel, he suffered at the hands of men and in circumstances which were a part of his task. But Paul's sufferings for Christ were accompanied by a comfort that overflowed. That is the blessing-- the overflow.
What kind of suffering was Paul referring to? He probably had in mind either the suffering he experienced in Asia, which he referred to next-- deadly peril and persecution. But he also may have been thinking of the pain brought to him by the problems of the Corinthian church. While the church can be a great blessing, it can also cause great pain. Paul's dealing with these issues must have been painful for those in Corinth as well.
Paul's reference to his "severe letter" in chapter 7 produced in them a profound sorrow as they understood how their reprehensible behavior had grieved Paul. It had certainly distressed him to write it but he did it out of love for them, for their comfort and "salvation"-- the advance of sanctification. The Corinthians' response brought comfort to both themselves and Paul and reaffirmed Paul's hope that God indeed had His hand on their lives.
The book of Hebrews gives us a powerful insight into this type of hardship-- "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as children. For what child is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons" (12:7-8).
What was the product? The Corinthians' comfort produced in them patient endurance-- hypomone-- steadfastness in the face of unpleasant circumstances. This is of enormous value. To the Romans, Paul wrote-- "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance" (5:3). The testing of our faith develops perseverance (James 1:3).
So here is the question-- Are you going through a rough time? Perhaps not right now. But those times will come if they are not here. A time of "trouble"? Pressed by hardship? Here are some truths to hang onto--
You are not alone. These difficulties are not without purpose. This has not taken God by surprise. The comfort of the Lord overflows into our lives and into the lives of those near us. We can have firm hope knowing that we share together in such suffering and in the comfort of the Father of compassion-- the God of all comfort.
O God, teach me in every situation and circumstance to depend upon You and You alone for my comfort and peace. May Your mercy and compassion overflow into my life and into the lives of those around me. Use hardship faithfully in me. Thank You for loving me as Your child. In Jesus' Name.