Summary: "The God of Hope" provides 1) The Power of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:8–10a); 2) The Perpetuity of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:10b) and calls us to 3) The Participation of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:11)
Today, there is a Celebration of Life in Alliston for Beryl's brother Geoff, who died after a long battle with brain cancer. Along with Beryl, other family members: Mary, Chris, and Chel, begin the difficult transition to life without him here. They expressed comfort knowing that his struggle is over, but their sadness remains. They said that there will always be a hole in our family gatherings.
In many ways death and suffering is an everyday, painful reality of Life. Trouble is an inescapable reality in this fallen, evil world. This Sunday we prayed for those who have died and continue to suffer with Ebola. Add to that Boko Haram; ISIS - and just the ongoing need for spreading the Gospel; there is much need for prayer and action. Life is filled with trouble, sorrow, pain, disappointment, disillusionment, and despair, which is the testimony of Scripture.
Adding to the pain of trouble is the disturbing reality that God sometimes seems distant and unconcerned. Because believers are redeemed sinners who live in a fallen world, bad things even happen to them. In fact, God allows those things to happen because it tests the validity of their faith (Dt. 8:2; 2 Chr. 32:31; Prov. 17:3;1 Pt. 1:6-7); to wean them from the world. (John 6:5-9); to call them to their heavenly hope (Rom. 5:3–5; 2 Cor. 4:17–18); to reveal to them what they really love (Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3–4; 1 Peter 4:13), to teach them obedience (Ps. 119:67, 71; Heb. 12:5–11); so He can reveal His compassion to them (Isa. 49:13; cf. 51:12; 52:9; 66:13; Ps. 63:3); to His people to strengthen them for greater usefulness (James 1:2–4) and to enable them to comfort others in their trials. (Luke 22:31–32; 2 Cor. 1:4) (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 25–28). Chicago: Moody Publishers.).
In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul rejoiced because God has so recently delivered him from a grave peril in Asia. This recent trauma 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 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, we can continue to trust God, receive His comfort and praise Him even in the midst of the difficulties.
Looking at 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 we can see how "The God of Hope" provides 1) The Power of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:8–10a); 2) The Perpetuity of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:10b) and calls us to 3) The Participation of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:11)
1) The Power of Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:8–10a);
2 Corinthians 1:8-10a For we do not want you to be ignorant, 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).(ESV)
To show the Corinthians the power of God’s comfort, Paul reminded them of a serious, life-threatening situation from which God had delivered him. The apostle used the phrase we do not want you to be ignorant/unaware or its equivalent six times in his epistles (cf. Rom. 1:13; 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1; 12:1; 1 Thess. 4:13). It expressed his great concern that his readers not have inadequate information.
• A basic obligation for believers on the experiencing of situations is to inform others. In a so-called polite society, we may be weary of sharing information thinking we are just burdening another, we think surely the other person has more significant difficulties, or we just expect the situation to pass. Yet living in community with others means that we need to share these situations. In sharing, we may gain helpful perspective or enable others to learn from situations. Through all of this, stronger bonds result.
Paul does not present theological speculation divorced from his own real life experience. He begins this section of the letter with a recent example of his experience of affliction and God’s comfort. He can quote the evidence when time and again God has been faithful to deliver him (2 Cor 4:7–15). For us, the situation that produced the affliction which came to Paul in the province of Asia is unknown. It may have involved Paul’s being beaten (cf. 2 Cor. 11:23–25), imprisoned (cf. 11:23), or both. Since he gave them no details, the incident must have been well-known to the Corinthians. But though they were aware of the situation, they did not know its severity or how God had worked in it. It had evidently happened recently, after Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, since he did not mention it in that letter. (MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 25–28). Chicago: Moody Publishers.)