Down, but Not Out

OPENING PRAYER

 

Lord, open my heart to Your Word and to those who suffer today.

 

Read: 2 CORINTHIANS 1:1-11

[1] Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: [2] Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [3] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, [4] who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. [5] For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. [6] If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. [7] And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. [8] We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. [9] Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. [10] He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, [11] as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 

 

Reflect: WHAT IS PAUL’S PERSPECTIVE ON SUFFERING?

There is a scene in the Bayeux Tapestry, that visual account of the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, where King Harold “comforts his troops” by prodding them with his spear! Paul sees comfort and consolation in similar terms. It’s not so much wrapping the sufferer in cotton wool, as strengthening them to persevere until the suffering passes. Often today our sentiment in the face of our own suffering is “Lord, take it away,” but Paul sees a more Christlike response in finding in his fellow believers the vehicle by which God strengthens us to patiently endure. Indeed, Paul’s suffering in modern-day Turkey had been so severe that he thought he would die (8). He gives no details, but he was utterly crushed and despaired of life, so that when he was rescued, it was as if he had been resurrected. The prayers of others helps (11), but it is the flesh-and-blood encouragement of other Christians that Paul valued most. 

 

APPLY

If you are suffering, seek out your fellow believers, so that in turn you might console others.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Lord, help Your people to bring life and strength to one another in Your Name.

 

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