Thursday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:1-24 (NKJV)
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.
St. Paul writes that two things happen in their affliction. First, that though they feel the sentence of death hanging over their heads, they learn to daily trust in God Who raises the dead. So it is with our sufferings. In our tribulations and crosses the Lord wants to lead us to faith in His precious promises in Christ. Though we might despair of our very lives because of hardship, Christ uses our sufferings to show that His strength is made perfect in weakness, just as it was during the days of His humiliation.
Second, St. Paul writes that they are afflicted so that, as they receive heavenly comfort, they might turn around and comfort their hearers. The comfort Paul offers to those who are being afflicted, the comfort which he receives from the God of comfort, is not a generic comfort. It is the comfort of the Holy Ghost working through the Word of God to give us Christ. The word “comfort” is the same word used to name the Holy Ghost in St. John’s Gospel, Paraclete. The comfort which the God of all comfort offers to Paul in His tribulation is that of the Holy Ghost, Who calls to his mind the things of Christ. This is the comfort that Paul, and all the faithful, offer to each other in the hour of utmost need. It is the comfort that, as our Lord suffered while in the flesh, so must His baptized people. But as Christ was vindicated by the Father on the third day, so all the baptized will be vindicated from their sufferings, if not in this life, then on the Last Day at the resurrection of the dead.
God, grant us the holy comfort of Christ for us. Amen.