He Comforts us in all our affliction. - 2 Corinthians 1
At the beginning of this chapter, Paul says some things that many modern Christians would not like to hear. In many modern churches, we have become comfortable with our Christian lives. We have gotten comfortable with our way of doing church and try to avoid suffering at all costs. The fastest way to lose church members is to talk about affliction and suffering as natural parts of the Christian life. That’s why many of the biggest churches in the world only talk about God’s love and blessings but do not talk about joining in the sufferings of Christ.
“For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 HCSB ( https://bible.com/bible/72/2co.1.5-7.HCSB )
As Paul and his fellow ministers were carrying out the work of the gospel they experienced times of affliction and suffering at the hands of unbelievers. We know that Paul, and the other Apostles, spent time in jail and had been beaten for the preaching of the gospel of Jesus with many of them being put to death for their faith. Paul is willing to face such affliction because his affliction was for the comfort and salvation of the Christians at Corinth. If Paul would have turned away from the minister at the onset of persecution then many believers would still be lost in their sins. Since he, and others, pushed on in the spreading of the gospel despite persecution salvation has come to many. Paul and the others were able to face the persecution and suffering because as the suffering increased so did the comfort that they received from Jesus.
Then Paul says that the believers at Corinth are receiving the same comfort because of their endurance in the same sufferings of Paul. He believes that they will be able to stand firm in the suffering, just like Paul, because Christ's comfort is going to increase in them as well.
Suffering seems to be a given in the life of a Christian. Not that we are to go out of the way to seek out suffering, but that as we live out the gospel and minister for its spread throughout the world; suffering will naturally follow. Seems to be opposite to what we see in many of the Christian nations around the world. Where it is expected, by many Christians, that they will have a life with very little suffering.
Paul would not believe that suffering is next to godliness, and would oppose those that mockingly make such a statement. At the same time, Paul would strongly be opposed to many of the churches and pastors the seem to be more interested in their popularity than they are in being the light in a dark world.
“You will even be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends. They will kill some of you. You will be hated by everyone because of My name,”
Luke 21:16-17 HCSB ( https://bible.com/bible/72/luk.21.16-17.HCSB )
Jesus has even warned us that if we follow Him, then some of us will be put to death and the world will hate us. We should not be surprised when we face suffering or persecution for our testimony to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The world hated Jesus, the world will hate us as followers of Jesus. There is no surprise here.
What we should be surprised by is if the world loves us, unless the majority of the world has been won for Christ; which it has not. This is why we should be wary of any church or pastor that seems to be well-liked by the world. When we say well-liked we are not talking about their personalities, but the messages that they preach. The changing of the gospel to make it more palatable for the consumption of the world does no one any favors. It gives people false hope and false assurance because they have not been convicted of their sins. Or, they have believed that God is all about blessings and love and will not hold them accountable for their unrepentant sins.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we have to be beaten for our faith, or have to always be in a state of suffering. There is not anything specifically godly about suffering. At the same time, being a Christian does mean that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you have not changed or watered down the message of the gospel; then you will face times of suffering and persecution. When you do. Remember that Paul says “as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.” When our time of suffering comes, Christ will be our strength and comfort. We will be able to praise God and say with Paul that God “comforts us in all our afflictions” (vs. 4).