Thursday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:1-24 (NKJV)
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end 14 (as also you have understood us in part), that we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.
15 And in this confidence I intended to come to you before, that you might have a second benefit—16 to pass by way of you to Macedonia, to come again from Macedonia to you, and be helped by you on my way to Judea. 17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
18 But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, 22 who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
Comfort abounds in the Bible. But it isn’t the comfort that the world seeks. It’s comfort from God that is experienced even in the midst of trial and tribulation.
Paul certainly knew tribulation. Hatred followed him from city to city after he preached the Gospel. He was delivered from death time and again (until finally he wasn’t). The Lord assured him often that he would suffer much for the Gospel. He had no prospects for a comfortable life.
And yet he had the comfort of a Father who had accepted him—though he was entirely unworthy of it—only for the sake of the afflictions of his Savior, who loved him and loved him still. He had the comfort of the Lord’s many assurances that his labor was not in vain. He also had the comfort that his afflictions, painful as they were for him, were helping his fellow Christians to hear and remain faithful to the Gospel. And so there was comfort for all in the midst of the afflictions of all.
Our Confessions (Apology, Article VI) cite Paul’s words today to help us see a divine purpose behind our afflictions: “Saints are subject to death, and all general afflictions…And although these afflictions are for the most part the punishments of sin, yet in the godly they have a better end, namely, to exercise them, that they may learn amidst trials to seek God’s aid, to acknowledge the distrust of their own hearts, etc., as Paul says of himself, 2 Cor. 1:9: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.”
We pray: Father of mercies, comfort us in all our tribulations,and help us ever to seek Your powerful aid. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.