Monday, February 26, 2024

Suffering in 2 Corinthians

Aaron S. Robertson

Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God."

This passage, I believe, does a wonderful job of succinctly explaining how we are each to unite our own suffering to the suffering of Christ and to one another. The passage brings the theme of suffering full circle in that our Father is always there to encourage and console us in our every struggle. In turn, as our Father is always there for us, we are able, and indeed expected, to be a source of comfort and understanding to others in their own sets of circumstances. Suffering helps each of us grow in virtue. It helps us not only to cling to God as individuals in our own unique time of need, but it also strengthens our bonds with our fellow brothers and sisters in God by helping us relate to what others are going through. As our Father shows mercy, compassion, and encouragement to each one of us, we are, in turn, equipped to do the same for others.

Paul closes the loop to this full circle in the next two verses, 2 Corinthians 1:5-6, when he writes, "For as Christ's sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow. If we are afflicted, it is for your encouragement and salvation; if we are encouraged, it is for your encouragement, which enables you to endure the same sufferings that we suffer."

In short, suffering brings us closer to God and to one another as fellow human beings; as fellow children of our Father adopted through Christ. One can easily see how this all ultimately relates back to our commandment to love one another - to will the best for each other.

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