The Great Encourager (II Corinthians 1:2-5)
II Corinthians 1:2-5, “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the LORD Jesus Christ. Blessed be God, even the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 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. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.”
Because we are human, we all get discouraged at times. Encouragement is something we all need. Thank God it is something He has promised to every one of us. I want you to know the sweet encouragement that only our Saviour can bring. The word “comfort” means to stand beside a person, encouraging and helping him or her in a time of trouble. God fulfills this role on the highest level by sending the Holy Spirit to comfort His children (John 14:16).
Paul had learned in his many troubles that no suffering, no matter how severe, can separate those who follow Jesus from the care and compassion of their Heavenly Father (Romans 8:35-39). God occasionally permits troubles in our lives so that we may learn to depend on Him and that we may better understand how to comfort others in their troubles.
Throughout this letter, Paul stresses that the Christian life includes both sufferings and the comfort of Christ often at the same time. Paul had been in a painful situation. He spoke of difficulty (I Corinthians 1:4, 6, 8), distress (I Corinthians 1:5-7), despair (I Corinthians 1:8), and death (I Corinthians 1:9-10). Jesus’ promise to His disciples in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Suffering for the cause of Christ allows us to better relate to Him as a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3). But for every degree of suffering we face as we follow Christ, the greater the comfort He provides as we depend on Him.
The Father Encourages Us. God provides comfort when we are in affliction (I Corinthians 1:3-4). God is a Father to the fatherless. He knows, understands, sees, cares, loves, and is present with His children. Hebrews perfectly expresses the way in which He gives encouragement through His Word (Hebrews 12:5). The Scripture are the means the Father uses to speak directly to us, as to His children. Our encouragement of sufferers, therefore, will simply be the means of bringing to them the encouraging Word of the Father, as we read with them.
The Son Encourages Us. Jesus understands. He has experienced the loneliness, the sense of degradation, the pain, the fears, of suffering. That is not simply a thing of the past for Him. Hebrews 4:15-16, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” The One who cried out on the Cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) understands the depths of discouragement.
The Holy Spirit Encourages Us. He is the One called to our side to give us strength. When your sense of your value to God is destitute, the Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God. When you’re discouraged, do not cry, "O God!" rather cry, "Abba! Father!" In this way, in the midst of our suffering, we realize we are children. If we are children, we are heirs. If we are heirs, then glory awaits us (Romans 8:15-17). This is real encouragement! We should rejoice in our salvation, in the hope of God's glory, and—yes, even in our sufferings, “…because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5).
If anyone tries to convince you that you can avoid suffering such as physical, mental, emotional, financial problems, provided that you have enough faith, they’re not telling you the truth. Paul was a faithful follower of Jesus and obedient in word and in his walk and he suffered greatly. Paul’s suffering and ours is directly related to God’s purpose of using us to minister to others. We must not be so overcome by our suffering that we miss the unlimited comfort that God makes available in every circumstance. God is sovereign over our suffering. When we are going through trials, it is of great comfort to know that nothing comes into our lives without first passing through the hands of our heavenly Father. Don’t run from the Lord when tribulations come; run to Him and let Him work in you so that you may be comforted. Whatever happens, I can trust God, realizing He is using life's circumstances to conform me into Christlikeness (Romans 8:28-29). As children of God, we should encourage and comfort one another. I Thessalonians 5:11, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” The Scriptures urge us to encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone (I Thessalonians 5:14).
PRAYER: Father, I lift up those You have personally allowed me to encounter. Those who are suffering for Your cause, those who are struggling a besetting sin, and strengthen those who are utilizing all their efforts to make an impact for you. In Jesus Name, AMEN.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.