Summary: Through our relationship to Christ we share in the fellowship of suffering in general and we Share in His Suffering through: 1) The Father in Suffering (2 Cor. 1:3-4), 2) The Son in Suffering (2 Cor. 1:5-6) & 3) The Saints in Suffering (2 Cor. 1:7)
In his book (and now feature movie), The Insanity of Obedience, Nik Ripken tells about meeting Dmitri in the former USSR. Born of Christian parents, Dmitri found himself and his family living under communism in an area where the nearest church was a three-day walk away. He started teaching his family one night a week, reading from the old family Bible. It seemed a natural progression to sing, and also to pray. And a Bible study turned into real family worship. Neighbours began noticing and some of them asked if they could come and listen to the Bible stories and sing the songs A small group began gathering. Local party officials came to see Dmitri. They threatened him physically, which was to be expected. What upset Dmitri much more was their accusation: “You have started an illegal church!” “How can you say that?” he argued. “I have no religious training. I am not a pastor. This is not a church building. We are just a group of family and friends getting together. All we are doing is reading and talking about the Bible, singing, praying, and sometimes sharing what money we have to help out a poor neighbor. How can you call that a church?” “I got fired from my factory job,” Dmitri recounted. “My wife lost her teaching position. My boys were expelled from school.” When the number of people grew to seventy-five, there was no place for everyone to sit. Villagers pressed close in around the windows on the outside. Then one night as Dmitri spoke, the door to his house suddenly, violently burst open. An officer grabbed Dmitri by the shirt, slapped him across the face, slammed him against the wall, and said in a cold voice, “We have warned you and warned you and warned you. We will not warn you again! If you do not stop this nonsense, this is the least that is going to happen to you’ (Nik Ripken, The Insanity of Obedience, (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group), 2014, pp. 279-282.)
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul reflected on recent trauma which brought him to the edge of despair as he felt unbearably crushed with all hope for life draining away (1:8). A break in the clouds of this unrelenting suffering and the ray of hope afforded by the comforting news from Titus about the Corinthians’ response to his “severe letter” (7:5–11) evokes his praise for God’s unexpected grace Paul talks about his own suffering (the fellowship of suffering) and the comfort that God provides that they may have hope. (Furnish: The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 65–68).
What do you do when the difficulties arrive? Do you avoid them, secretly blame God, or try to hide? Although we may not completely understand the difficulties we find ourselves in, when we share in the fellowship of suffering with our brothers and sisters across the globe who suffer, we can trust God, receive His comfort and praise Him even in the midst of the difficulties.
Looking at 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 through our relationship to Christ we share in the fellowship of suffering in general and we Share in His Suffering through: 1) The Father in Suffering (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), 2) The Son in Suffering (2 Corinthians 1:5-6) and through 3) The Saints in Suffering (2 Corinthians 1:7)