In this world you will have trouble
In our personal lives and in our world we see signs and times of trouble on a regular basis. Sometimes it is obvious why it is happening, sometimes it is not but regardless of the reason there are few of us who welcome trouble when it comes.
The apostle Paul understood trouble in ways most of us will never encounter. He uses the words pain, hardship, struggles, suffering, pain, affliction and despair to describe these troubles In 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 he describes in a very personal and vulnerable way what this looks like
“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die”.
His list included imprisonment, beatings , facing death, thirty-nine lashes five times, stoned, shipwrecked, adrift at sea, constant danger from rivers, robbers, Jews, Gentiles, danger in the cities, danger in the deserts, on the seas, from imposters, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst suffering from the weather and the daily concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
In addition we read in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 of a “nagging nuisance, a satanic messenger, a thorn in his flesh”, who plagued Paul constantly.
If the story ended here with Paul’s suffering it would be easy to say “poor Paul” and admire his endurance. In our culture we would make him a hero, name churches after him and everyone would want to buy his book and the inevitable small group DVD and study guides that would follow. But this is not Paul’s story or his purpose for telling it. Paul never intended that he get credit for all he endured.
2 Corinthians 12:10 “I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong”.
When I am at my weakest, He makes me strong…
This is the story of God who makes us strong in our greatest weakness.
In our western culture we put a premium on comfort. When times of trouble do come our first response many times is to complain and question why God would allow these things to happen? Since when did Jesus use the word “comfort” to describe our walk with Him.
Space does not allow all the evidence in Scripture that would point to a different experience. And if trouble and trial are part of our walk with Him what is the purpose or reason? I would suggest two things
Our trouble is meant to increase our dependence on God
Paul says “when I am at my weakest I am strong“
Why? Because the time of our greatest need provides the greatest opportunity to know God. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul writes” All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life.
Why is Paul giving all praise to God? Because there are times in our life where the only comfort that will get us through comes from God, the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort, the one who comforts us as we endure pain and hardship.
The one who gives peace in the midst of trouble that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:7) God desires to reveal Himself to us and does through His grace, His mercy, His power and His comfort.
Our trouble enables us to comfort others
If I were to ask the question “would you be willing to go through trouble to comfort others”, what would your answer be?
Think about the worst thing or time you have gone through in your life would you be willing to go through that again to help someone?
To share in their trouble and hardship?
It is clear that one of the reasons God comforts us is “so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles” (2 Corinthians 1:4).
When you are facing troubles and trials it is my prayer that the following will give you grace and comfort to endure.
1. God allows trouble so we can experience His comfort in our lives
2. God allows trouble so we can extend His comfort to others
3. God allows trouble so we can learn to rely on his power 1
“All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. For even as His suffering continues to flood over us, through the Anointed we experience the wealth of His comfort just the same. If we are afflicted with such trouble and pain, then know it is so that you might ultimately experience comfort and salvation. If we experience comfort, it is to encourage you so that you can hold up while you endure the same sufferings we all share. unshaken and unshakable. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
All scripture references from The Voice, New Living Translation and The New International Version Bibles
1 Quotes and inspiration from the series by Pastor John Lindell
“2 Corinthians-Comfort In The Midst of Crisis August 2014”
Photo credit “Wild about Britain