April 24, 2022
COMFORT THOSE WHO ARE AFFLICTED
2 Corinthians 1:3-10
Introduction: Samuel Chadwick, a Wesleyan Minister, said, “Compassion costs. It is easy enough to argue, criticize and condemn; but redemption is costly, and comfort draws from the deep. Brains can argue, but it takes heart to comfort.” How do we respond to those who are enduring hardship? Do we dish out criticism and judgment, or do we provide comfort from genuine concern and compassion? Chadwick stated that redemption is costly, meaning that we must crucify our big ego and pride before we can ever offer the necessary comfort to resurrect a broken heart.
God does not want to see His children hurting from the pain of adversity and loss: nor does He want to see believers casting insult upon injury by offering inconsiderate words during a person’s time of grief. Therefore, he comforts us during our own trials, hoping we will allow the consolation that we have received to provide us with insight, in order to better assist those who are hurting in a similar manner. We will learn today how we must allow our own trials to lead us in compassion toward others; and that we must utilize our newfound spiritual understanding to help redeem the spiritually wounded from their pain and confusion.
I. THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT v. 3-5
A. The Father of mercies. Note the word “mercies” means compassion, pity, and mercy. It means looking upon people in need and having compassion and mercy upon them.
1. Note that God is not the God of mercies but the Father of mercies. His very nature and behavior toward us, is that of a Father, not of a God. He is our Father, a father who is merciful and compassionate.
2. Note that the word mercies, is plural. God does not show mercy just once, nor just here and there. God showers His mercies upon us continuously.
B. The God of all comfort. The word “comfort” means to be by the side of another; to relieve and support; to give solace, consolation, and encouragement. There is the idea of strength, an enablement, a confidence. It consoles and relieves a person, but it strengthens him at the same time. It charges a person to go out and face the world. Note that the word comfort is the same word that is used for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given the title The Comforter by Christ.
C. God comforts the sufferer---so that he might be a testimony to other sufferers (v. 4).
1. The word “tribulation” means to be weighed down exceedingly; to be pressed and crushed. It is the picture of a person having a heavy weight placed on his breast and being pressed and crushed to the point that he feels he is going to die.
2. God’s purpose in comforting us is to make us a testimony to others.
II. GOD USES SUFFERING TO STIR OTHER BELIEVERS v. 6-7
The first thing we read in these two verses is this: “And whether we be afflicted, it is your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer” (v. 6). Paul was saying that God may allow us to face a certain trial, knowing that in the future there will be someone within our circle of influence who will experience the exact same thing; and therefore, he or she will need our wisdom, our advice, and our comfort. Allow me to share an illustration:
There was a fifteen-year boy, named Douglas Maurer of Creve Coeur, Missouri, had been feeling bad for several days. His temperature was ranging between 102 and 105 degrees, and he was suffering from severe flu-like symptoms. Finally, his mother took him to the hospital in St. Louis.
Douglas was diagnosed as having leukemia. The doctor told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn’t sugar-coat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression.
His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who has leukemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt. Then he saw a second card. It said, “Douglas – I took your order. I work at Brix florist. I had leukemia when I was seven-years-old. I’m twenty-two-years-old now. Good luck. MY heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley.” His face lit up, and he immediately breathed a sigh of relief.
Douglas Maurer was in a hospital filled with millions of dollars worth of the most sophisticated medical equipment. He was treated by doctors and nurses with expert medical training. But it was a sales clerk in a flower shop, a woman making one hundred seventy dollars a week, who by taking the time to care, and by being willing to go with what her heart told her, gave Douglas hope and the will to carry on.
It does our soul a world of good to know that we are not alone in what we are facing.
In verse six, Paul stated, “If we are comforted, it is your consolation and salvation.” When we share with others concerning how God has been faithful during our own adversity, then this comforting news will encourage them to face their set of difficult circumstances.
We should never share what we have endured with malice in our heart, or with a competitive spirit. God has called us to encourage people; therefore, we must refuse to turn our trials into a tally of battle scars. I have heard believers make comments such as, “Welcome to my world,” or, “Now you know what it’s like to be in my shoes,” and, “That’s nothing, because I went through such and such.” Sharing these kinds of comments with those who are facing difficulty is not beneficial, but rather emotionally hurtful and spiritually detrimental.
III. GOD USES SUFFERING TO TEACH TRUST v. 8-10
God allows suffering to teach a daily trust for deliverance. Note: Paul says that God continued to deliver him through the trials of life and that he continued to trust God to deliver him. The is that we must trust God daily, trust Him to deliver us from daily sufferings.
Responsive Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:1-10