for as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 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. our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. [2 corinthians 1:5-7]
suffer for the body
this is such a rich few verses that says so much about the character of God, the gifts we have through his Son, Jesus, and his perfect plan he is carrying out through his body, the church.
when we come to know Jesus through his Spirit opening our eyes to his glory, God declares us righteous (no record of sin) because we then inherit Jesus’ righteousness through his death on the cross. this is called justification. it’s something that happens right when God calls us to follow him. however, in our flesh, we still struggle with sin. why? if we’re righteous before God, how are we still sinful? we’re still sinful, because our now new spirit is battling our earthly flesh and desires. (romans 7:15-20) we’ll never be without sin while we still live on the earth, but God does promise to sanctify us. (romans 8:29) this means he will set us apart for himself, convict us of our sins, hold us near to himself, never leave us, and continue to show us more and more of himself, all the while, making us actually look more and more like his Son, Jesus.
when we are promised sanctification, we are guaranteed suffering, because it is through suffering that we are made holy. (james 1:2-4) this is why paul is so confident that the church in corinth has been, and will continue to be experiencing the same sufferings that he and his cohort are experiencing. paul is constantly being physically and emotionally tormented for his efforts to spread the truth about Jesus. but he knows that this gospel brings salvation, so to him, the suffering is worth it, knowing that it is for the winning of lost souls and the building up of the body of Christ.
at the same time, as we’ve been discussing, the comfort of the presence of God is promised along with suffering for the gospel. that’s why paul’s hope for them is unshaken. because his faith in God is unshaken, as God has proven himself faithful to his promises time and time again. so as this church shares in his sufferings, as is promised, they will also experience the comfort from God, as is promised. all of these go hand in hand.
so if our suffering is for the body of Christ, and our comfort is for the body of Christ, we have to ask ourselves, “why am i always trying to suffer and find comfort on my own?” we’re not meant to follow Christ alone. it was God’s plan for his church to share in each other’s sufferings (1 corinthians 12:26) and bear one another’s burdens (galatians 6:2). this is how the whole church is built up. we shouldn’t take that opportunity away from each other!
so today, in the trials you face, ask the Lord how you can build up his church through the trials. if you’re experiencing joy or comfort in Christ, ask him how you can use it to encourage the church. share it with someone today, and may the Lord bless his bride to the glory of his name!
~ arwen eastman