Suffering In This World
For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.2 Corinthians 1:5-7
NOOOOO!! We don’t want to even entertain the word suffering. Some theologies actually think we can control suffering in such a way as to get rid of it or minimize its impact. Certainly, we can minimize consequences by not indulging in the sin, unrighteousness and/or foolishness that bring them on. But there are kinds of suffering that we simply cannot control that come into our lives.
Why? And what makes them Christ’s suffering? We are of course not talking about the suffering He did once for all for our atonement. I am not even talking about those things we suffer exclusively for His name’s sake or for the sake of the gospel. Here, we are discussing the suffering he endured simply by coming into a fallen world.
Yuck! He came right into the muck and mire in which we live. He even chose as His entry way into the world poverty instead of riches, which increased his chances of exposure to suffering. So it was that Paul would pursue life and ministry on earth and thus be exposed to affliction or suffering. But what happened? He was able to share in the comfort that comes from Christ, as well. The fallenness of the world did not rob Christ of comfort from the Father. Therefore, Paul, in the midst of his affliction, was in turn comforted by Christ. He now tells the Corinthians they may receive this comfort (strength, joy and consolation) even salvation (of eternal value) as they endure life in this world in Christ.
We say life is tough or hard. It is. But Jesus endured living here just like we have to do. Although historians talk about Pax Romana (peace of Roman rule), the truth is life was cheap and hard. Yet Paul could say the hardness of life was not the end of the matter. In these times of political uncertainty, a decline in the quality of life and the presence of a pandemic, we have access to this same comfort that both helps us and provides encouragement for others from us through Christ. Not only do we not struggle alone, the struggles we have provide life to others who are suffering as well. Praise the Lord!