By Kerr Howell: “The Affliction Brings Forth the Experience”

suffering2 Corinthians 1:6: The Affliction Brings Forth The Experience

“If We Are Afflicted, It Is For Your Comfort And Salvation; And If We Are Comforted, It Is For Your Comfort, Which You Experience When You Patiently Endure The Same Sufferings That we Suffer.”

Paul confidently trusts in the sovereignty of God and His hand. He sees the glimpses of redemption no matter what happens to him. This is what he desire for his readers, to see—their Redeemer. Redemption is great and is something that should be highly thought about. Nevertheless, redemption only comes from a redeemer. Therefore, no matter if harm or comfort comes it is part of our redemptive story. The very thing that the false apostles claimed that disqualified Paul (his sufferings), Paul would claim qualified him. He knows that God is using these means (suffering and comfort) to strengthen others who are following the same God.

Paul’s heart here is not focusing on the comfort in which he is receiving, but in the comfort that he is sharing with the Corinthians. He is centering his thoughts on his readers for the purpose of his readers focusing on the One who comforts all in any affliction. He is not just writing something, but living our through the ink he is sending to them. He is declaring to them that he is going through all this for Christ for their benefit. Paul is suffering so they can be comforted.

“The skill which he acquires in the school of affliction enables him so to comfort those who endure similar trials that their faith is strengthened, their patience is made more steadfast, their salvation in assured.”[14]

When Christians focus on their savior they view their pain, hardships, calamities, insults, rejections, afflictions, and suffering as God’s gracious and divine therapy. We are called to travel the Calvary mountain.

The phrase that caught my eye was, “It is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.” This is a meaty phrase. First off, the word comfort when used here means an exhortation. Paul is saying that his life is a life sign proclaiming, “Look at my life. You can make it. God will make you make it.” Our life speaks volumes of God’s grace, but as well as His comfort. Paul afflictions are used to bring forth the edification of the Corinthians.

The literal reading of this phrase is “Now whether we are being afflicted, [it is] for your encouragement and salvation; or if we are being encouraged [it is] for your encouragement producing in [you] an endurance of the same sufferings which also we suffer.” It does not matter to Paul whether he is afflicted or comforted, because he knows everything happens for the benefit of the Corinthians. It is to encourage them to face their own afflictions and to let them know the assurance of their salvation in Christ. We view suffering so wrong. We are so quick to wonder what we have done wrong to bring forth this, but extremely slow to wonder what God is trying to love us with so we can love others. Others comfort causes an endurance to well up inside of us. Our lives help others to remain faithful to the God who is faithful to us. We share our sufferings, just like Christ shares His suffering with us.

The word endurance means “to abide under, to bear up courageously.”[15] This endurance is an active one. It reaches the end. However, it also gives the sense that it suffers for a long time, and does not fail. God calls us to long-suffering at times, because in the act of suffering long, we experience Him in an intimate way. This endurance does not look at the time, but rather, the goal—Christ. Suffering brings us joy.

[14] Erdman, Charles R. The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House (1961), page 27.

[15] Vine, W.E. Nelson’s Quick Reference: Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers (1997), page 212.

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