Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. — 2 Corinthians 1:4
In the winter of 1998, after working thirteen years as a logger, I was taken off the job with a back problem. The pain was severe. I spent a month lying on our living room floor before starting to walk again.
During this difficult time, I began to wonder why I was facing this trial. Though I was only thirty-one years old, I was incapacitated physically, and uncertain of what lay ahead for me and my family. It was a very stressful time physically and mentally, but also spiritually.
When we face unknowns in our lives, we learn to appreciate not only God’s caring touch, but also the comfort of those around us. Day after day, I would find myself looking up from the floor into the eyes of friends, brothers and sisters from the church, and family. They would assure me that things would get better. What an encouragement! I could feel those words of comfort lifting my spirits.
At night, however, when the visitors were gone and the children in bed, I would once again feel the weight of my situation. I would talk to God and seek comfort from Him. I’ve been told that Satan likes to attack us at our low points in life, and I found this to be true. In the quiet of the night, while lying there in pain, my mind would start filling with negative thoughts. The enemy of my soul was using circumstances to try to weaken me spiritually. Tears would flow as I would reach out and try to claim victory through the Blood of Jesus.
It was in those nights of despair that my angel of comfort would arrive. Even though my wife had to tend to me all day long, she would leave the comfort of a soft mattress and come to my side on the hard floor of the living room. Many times, as I would be groaning in agony, I would hear her whispering a prayer or speaking words of encouragement. Through her comforting words I would find my thoughts turning from negative back to positive again.
After a time, thank the Lord, I found myself back in a reasonable state of health. As I think with gratitude of all who encouraged me in those difficult days, I want to do the same for others in need. I want to be alert to opportunities to comfort those around me. There is a blessing in doing so!
Today, let’s ask God to give us spiritual eyesight to see the needs of others. In the workplace, at home, or wherever life’s journey takes us, let’s be attentive to people who may need support. Through a comforting word or deed, a soul may come to know the Lord, or be encouraged in Him. We can be channels that God can use to send comfort to those around us!
The church at Corinth had been established a few years prior to the time this intensely personal letter was written by Paul. Located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the city of Corinth was a place where pagan cultures flourished. Because the converts at Corinth were subject to suffering and persecution, Paul reminded them of the corresponding comfort and consolation available through the Gospel.
While the Book of 1 Corinthians deals largely with moral matters, 2 Corinthians deals primarily with Paul’s relationship to the Corinthian church and the character of his apostleship. He responded to attacks against his personal integrity with an appeal to the nature of the Gospel itself.
This portion of text begins with Paul’s greeting and his prayer for the Corinthian church. In verses 3-11, he spoke about comfort and hope in adversity. In the remaining portion of the text, Paul explained his change of plans and the reason for it.
Paul’s admonition was that the Corinthian church become steadfast. He let the church know that just as God had been a comfort to him, he wanted to comfort them, even in the face of adversity (2 Corinthians 1:4). Paul and his companions had suffered in order to minister to the people in Corinth, as well as those in other places, but he saw those afflictions as being for the good of these people. Although Paul did not give specifics about the trouble in Asia, the Book of Acts contains many accounts of the difficulties Paul and his companions faced on their missionary trips. At times they thought they would die, but because they trusted God, He miraculously delivered them.
In a previous letter, Paul had declared his intention to again visit Corinth. Because he had not followed through yet, some were questioning his integrity (2 Corinthians 1:15-17), accusing him of failing to keep his word. In acknowledging that his change of plans had prevented him from immediately keeping his promise, Paul reminded them that God’s promises never fail (2 Corinthians 1:20). He also assured them that he was not being unfaithful to his word, but that his motive for not coming had been to spare them from the discipline he would need to administer. Then Paul quickly stated that he had no “dominion” over their faith — he did not want to “lord over” them — but he wanted to encourage their joy.
In chapter 2 verses 1-4, Paul declared that due to his heavy heart concerning their attitude toward him, he thought it better to write this letter, rather than visit them at this time.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Introduction (1:1-11)
A. Salutation (1:1-2)
B. Thanksgiving (1:3-11)
1. For comfort in suffering (1:3-7)
2. For hope in suffering (1:8-11)
II. The apology of the Apostle
A. The conduct of Paul
1. The change of plans (1:12 — 2:4)
a. His concern (1:12-14)
b. His altered plans (1:15-22)
c. His explanation (1:23 — 2:4)
In the dark valleys of life, words of comfort encourage us and give hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Each of us can look for opportunities to be an encouragement to those around us.