The obvious theme of the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 1 is the comfort of God:
“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 will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” (2 Cor 1:3–7)
A few questions to help us think about and meditate on this passage:
- How should we think about God and relate to Him in light of the mercy and comfort we receive from Him?
- Why does God comfort us when we are afflicted?
- In what kinds of afflictions should we comfort others?
- What kind of comfort should we offer to others?
- How can we comfort others in their afflictions (even if our own affliction continues)?
- What is part of God’s purpose in afflicting us? And what is part of God’s purpose in comforting us?
- What is the end of God’s comfort (is it effective)?
- As we are comforted, what is our ultimate hope?
This passage and these questions are a gentle and gracious reminder that while we suffer — sometimes greatly and suddenly as vv. 8-11 indicate — God has good and kind purposes in mind for both us and others in our afflictions. And our affliction and comfort are often more for the benefit of others than even ourselves. Our trouble and the resulting merciful comfort we receive from God prepares us to minister effectively to others. As we have articulated in our church’s core values: we believe in the value of problems and trials — both our own and others’ — because they are an encouragement and exhortation to us as we see others live faithfully with Christ.