This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer.
We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die.But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again.
We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. (2 Corinthians 1:1-11 NLT)
Theme: Power in Weakness (2nd Corinthians)
- Why do bad things happen to good people? – Short Answer – SIN.
- Bad things even happen to godly people. – In this world you will have tribulation and trouble…
- Sometimes God even ALLOWS bad things to happen to good people – so that we will lean on Christ.
- We are at our strongest – when we are at our weakest, yet leaning on Christ.
- 1 Cor. – problems in the Church – corrections to make the church useful
- 2 Cor. – Paul’s struggle with weakness leaning on Christ. A very personal book. One of the most personal books regarding Paul’s life and stuggle with personal issues and heart-break.
- Paul wrote 4 letters to the Corinthians – 1&2 (that we know)are actually the 2nd and 4th letter.
- Paul is at a low point in his ministry – lies have been spread regard Paul – personally, doctrinally, appearance, & his preaching. His critics are into image Paul is not.
- Paul uses 5 words for trouble – to describe trials…Then 10 times the word comfort. God’s comfort is adequate to assisst us.
3 Reasons God allows believers to face trials:
1. God allows trials so that we can experience his comfort in our life. (1:3)
- God’s heart is to show himself to you. – His power – His comfort – His grace – All of his attributes.
- Comfort only has meaning if we need to be comforted. It is an inverse relationship. The greater our need…the greater comfort we can experience.
- Job 42:5 – I heard of you by the hearing of my ear, but now I see you.
- Psalm 34:18 – God is close to the broken hearted.
- C.S. Lewis – “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his mega-phone to rouse a deaf world.”
- When HE is all we have, we discover HE is all we need.
2. God allows trials so that we can extend his comfort to the lives of others. (1:4-7)
- Not only because one is a Christian, but also experienced as a “human” Christian.
- He bore our sin. He understands.
- You cannot give that which you don’t have. You cannot truly empathize with those who need it, if you haven’t yourself experienced it.
- We say “God Use Me.” God says “OK but the pain of preparation may be excruciating…maintain perspective so that you can share my comfort, as you travel through the pain, with others.“
- Be prepared for God to use you as his hand of comfort to others in need (Christian and Non-Christian.)
3. God allows trials so that we will exclusively rely on His power/comfort. (1:8) (2 Cor 11:23-29)
Are they servants of Christ?-I speak as if insane-I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern? (2 Corinthians 11:23-29 NASB)
- Unfortunately, we need to discover that HE is all we need FIRST HAND.
- His power is perfected in weakness.
- All of Paul’s trials did not cause him to abandon Christ – but lean more desperately on God.
- We will never God’s grace without experiencing trial.
- Paul thought he was going to die. Paul in life – not Paul in prison.
- We need to come to the end of our “personal rope” so that we can let go and then “let God.”
- When people reach the end of their struggling – God wants to help us & work through us.
- His grace is sufficient.
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself!
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7, 9-10 NASB)