“…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.” 2 Cor 1:4
“…we had the sentence of death within ourselves SO THAT we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.” 2 Cor: 1:9-10
“So that” indicates cause and effect and purpose. Something happens that creates a result in order that something else can happen.
Paul in two words puts all of our problems, pressure, and afflictions in perspective. Here is the progression.
This is what the word “affliction” means and is what we experience. We all have pressure and it weighs us down. The things you lay in bed and think about at night are your crushing pressures. The things that put a weight on your soul. That tempt you to worry and fear. That you can’t seem to shake. That look like an insurmountable mountain. That make you despair that you can even live, or live well. These are the “afflictions” of which Paul speaks.
Sometimes they are huge, cataclysmic things—often a series of piranhas that bite away at your life and peace. And, we all have them.
When crushing pressure comes, we are pushed to…
The pressure became so great in Paul that there was nowhere else to turn. He “despaired even of life” and it came SO THAT “we would not trust in ourselves, but in God.”
We often will not trust until we come to this point. At the end of ourselves we turn in absolute dependency and expectancy to Christ, which is exactly where we should be all along. Crushing pressure knocks the self out of us and brings us back to helplessness and need. And, if we are wise, it turns us to Him in faith. (If we are foolish, it turns us against Him in bitterness).
And when we look to Him we find…
This is not the word as we know it. We think of a recliner. But the word is “paraklesis” and it means to “come alongside and lift the load.” When we are under the weight of issues, God comes alongside and lifts the load in supernatural ways.
It is always sufficient, by the way. “For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” vs. 5
And this sufficient, wonderful pressure leads us to…
…with the “comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (vs. 4)
We are now equipped to help people in ways we were not equipped before. We have known the pressure and known the help of God. Now we can relate to those who are under the same pressure and be the instruments of the Spirit that bring them the same Divine help.
This is why pressure is not a waste. What the world, flesh, and devil throw at you cannot harm you but strengthens you and equips you if you will not trust in yourself.
In fact, those very pressures are the gateway to your greatest ministry. And ministry to God and others is what the remaining years of your life are all about.
©2014 Bill Elliff. Originally posted at Bill’s Graceful Truth Blog.