2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we will share in the fellowship of his sufferings if we are becoming like him. For, if we have been crucified with Christ in death to sin, and if we have been raised with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, we will suffer.
For, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self and take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to the flesh) and follow our Lord (in obedience to his commands). For, if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die daily to sin/self) for Jesus’ sake, we will have eternal life (Lu 9:23-26).
And because we have died with Christ to sin and we are now living to Christ and to his righteousness, and we are standing on the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be hated, rejected, ridiculed, slandered, cast aside and/or just plain ignored because we take God seriously.
Some Christians will be cast aside by their family members, or they will lose their jobs, or even “the church” will reject and persecute them for their seriousness of faith in Jesus Christ. Some will be beaten and even put to death for their stand for the Lord and for his gospel truth, too.
But when we suffer for righteousness’ sake, biblically speaking, our Lord will comfort us for our sake, as well as for the sake of others who are suffering, who we will then, in turn, be able to comfort with the comfort we received from the Lord in our suffering. This is His plan.
2 Corinthians 1:6-7 ESV
“If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
But we aren’t afflicted for righteousness’ sake just so we can comfort others with the comfort we received from the Lord in our affliction. When we are afflicted, it draws us closer to the Lord, we draw more on his strength, and we follow him closer in doing what he has called us to do.
And when we follow the Lord more seriously, and we live lives which are truly separate (unlike, different) from the world, and we are thus bold in our witness for him and in sharing the gospel against great opposition, it also means the salvation of human lives.
If I had not gone through all the suffering the Lord has taken me through in my life, I don’t know that I would have had the courage and the determination to speak the truth of the gospel daily on the internet, and face to face, knowing full well that I will be opposed and even attacked.
But because of all that I suffered, mainly face to face, the Lord sent me to the internet to share the truths of his word. And although I don’t have direct knowledge of all the ways in which the Lord is using me, I do know that he is using me in people’s lives to draw them close (or closer) to Jesus.
So, the Lord takes what appears like something bad (suffering) and he turns it around for good in our own lives, to grow us spiritually to maturity in Christ, and so that he may use us for his glory to impact other people’s lives with the love of God and with his saving grace.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
Some afflictions that we experience may be minor by comparison to what other Christians are suffering around the world. But some of it can be quite severe, even without it being physical suffering. For, there are many ways in which others can persecute us which can be very hard to endure.
Some afflictions and persecutions can be so severe that we may even despair of life itself, for we may feel the sentence of death over our lives by the way that others treat us. And I’m not talking about paranoia, i.e., imagining what isn’t there or imagining a severity that doesn’t exist, although I am certain there are people who imagine what doesn’t exist.
But Christian persecution is real, and although it isn’t predominant yet in the USA, it is moving in that direction, and it definitely exists, and you will know it exists if you are serious about walking with the Lord in obedience to his will for your life, and if you are sharing Jesus’ words.
But the Lord allows us to suffer unjustly. Look at the life of Job. Look at Jesus’ life on the earth. And look at the lives of the prophets and the apostles, many of whom were martyred for their walks of faith and their testimonies for Jesus Christ and for the word of God.
And the reasons the Lord allows even unjust suffering in our lives is for many reasons all having to do with our spiritual maturity and our walks of faith and our obedience to his will for our lives. For, suffering teaches us to rely on the Lord and not on ourselves, if we respond correctly to it.
The Lord doesn’t always remove us from the suffering, though, at least not immediately. He knows what we need to learn through it, and he knows what needs to be done in our hearts and lives to make us into the people of God he wants us to be. But he will see us through everything he takes us through. We just have to trust him, rest in him, and follow him.
The Lord’s Anointed
An Original Work / December 16, 2011
Based off Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.
They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to wear,
As the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.