Friday, October 25, 2013

Trusting God in the Hard Times

Trusting God in the Hard Times
2 Corinthians 1:3,4
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 

How many times have you thought, “Why this trial, Lord? Why the broken heart or painful illness? Why has the one who called me, friend, rejected me and turned his/her back on me? Why am I being slandered or wrongfully accused?” Unfortunately, God does not ask you how or when you want to grow. You, Christian, must understand that through adversity you will grow in some way for your own good and for His glory.

The book of 2 Corinthians was written by Paul in defense of his integrity, and his apostolic authority. He did not write it for his own gain, or popularity, but for the protection of the church and the truth. Behind the scenes of this letter, was a strong and growing assault on the Apostle Paul in an effort to destroy his credibility and undermined his message. There were false teachers in Corinth and they wanted to preach another Jesus and bring another gospel. False teachers were doing everything they could to destroy Paul’s reputation and discourage the church.

The city of Corinth was filled with immorality and the church itself was battling with such prevalent sin. The false teachers questioned Paul’s authority and they said he was a self-appointed apostle. They questioned his honesty, his purity and accused him of doing what he did for sexual favors from women. They questioned his love and affection for the church. They used every imaginable angle to attack his character. They even accused him of embezzling the money that was given for the poor and putting it into his own pocket. (Remember the old adage, “Don’t tear someone else down so you can build yourself up?” That is exactly what they were doing. False teachers, hypocrites, were afraid of loosing their authority over the people in the church and were doing anything to keep their influential, self-appointed, positions while preaching another gospel.

These false teachers, false apostles were attacking Paul and portraying him as a sinner who was suffering for his sin and claiming that God was pouring out His wrath upon him. During this onslaught of attacks upon Paul’s character, there were divisions among the people at the Corinthian church. Paul hears of this and pens what is known as the “severe letter” and sends this letter with Titus to Corinth. Paul was very anxious to hear about the response the Corinthian church would have towards the letter he sent with Titus When he hears that the majority of the Corinthian church had repented of their rebellion against him, he expressed joy and relief. Paul then pens 2 Corinthians to portray God as the merciful comforter in times of severe tribulation.

The Greek word for “comfort” is related to the word paraclete, meaning, “the one who comes alongside to help.” The word paraclete is also another name for the Holy Spirit, our Great Comforter. Paul used this word in saying that God came to comfort that we may also come alongside and be comforters to others as well. The Corinthian people had taken Paul’s heart and stomped all over it yet, Paul knew that God was allowing him to suffer and then be comforted by the God of all comfort. He also understood that he could come to the Corinthian people and comfort them when they went through the same suffering. 

Thought: Do you see how all of your sufferings enable you to minister to another? What a partnership in suffering to know you're not out there on your own. When you represent the Lord Jesus Christ and suffer persecution or suffer rejection in your family, at your job, in school, wherever it might be, that persecution you receive for the sake of Christ and not for your own sin, God will enable you to comfort others and in return they will be able to comfort you. Paul was willing to suffer for Christ. It was his afflictions that would mold and shape him into the man that God intended him to be. When we share in Christ's sufferings, we partake in His abundant comfort as well. Sufferings and afflictions make you into the person God wants you to be and strengthens you for the work of the ministry in sharing Christ with a lost and hostile world.

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