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What Suffering Means for the Christian 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • July 17, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019 


  1. Why do we suffer? 
    1. Sometimes we can find a reason, and we see it helped us. 
    2. However, sometimes we suffer but we find no gain in it. 
  2. Is it possible that our suffering then was for others? 
    1. Perhaps someone gained by watching us or we blessed them with something. 
    2. What does a woman gain when she gives birth? 
    3. What does a soldier gain when he suffers in battle or even dies? 


  1. 1.1–2 • It Is about God

    1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,  To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
    1. Paul saw everything as dealing with God in some way. 
      1. Compare his words to the Romans:

        36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

        – Romans 11.36
      2. So as Paul began this letter to the Corinthians, 
        1. you can see how he put everything in the context of God. 
      3. God was Paul’s frame of reference for everything. 
        1. He was an apostle by the will of God. 
        2. He wrote this letter to the church of God. 
        3. Grace and peace come from God. 
    2. However, Paul certainly did not leave out Jesus. 
      1. After all, Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. 
      2. Grace and peace also come from the Lord Jesus Christ. 
  2. 1.3–4 • The God of All Comfort

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
    1. Paul blessed God at the beginning of Ephesians also.

      3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ…

      – Ephesians 1.3
    2. Here in Second Corinthians Paul had a different reason for blessing God. 
      1. He comforts us in all our tribulation. 
        1. This makes Him the Father of mercies and 
        2. the God of all comfort. 
      2. Yet, so often we fail to seek the God of all comfort. 
        1. The world tells us how to find comfort and 
        2. we listen to them because 
          1. we do not spend much time in the Scriptures, and 
          2. so we follow the world. 
    3. The Book of Psalms shows men of God who found comfort in God. 
      1. Why go anywhere else? 
      2. It does not make sense. 
    4. According to Paul God comforts us 
      1. that we might be able to comfort others in trouble. 
      2. And Paul said that the comfort we render to them 
        1. is the comfort that God rendered to us. 
        2. Spend time thinking of how God has helped your life and 
          1. that will lead you to know what to do and 
          2. how to help others. 
  3. 1.5–6 • Our Suffering Benefits Others

    5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. 6 Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
    1. Because of Christ we suffer and what He suffered blesses us. 
    2. However, Paul’s point is that 
      1. even as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, 
      2. so through Christ our consolation abounds. 
        1. Paul reasons in this way to show 
        2. that those comforted by God can comfort others. 
    3. Here the apostle also revealed 
      1. that anything he and his evangelistic team suffered, 
      2. it was for both the consolation and salvation of the Corinthians. 
        1. When the team thus comforted the Corinthian Christians, 
        2. they could then endure the same sufferings as the preachers. 
    4. However, not everything about an apostle or preacher is suffering. 
      1. There is plenty of comfort. 
      2. Paul let them know 
        1. that the comfort of the preachers was also for 
        2. the consolation and salvation of the Corinthian brethren. 
  4. 1.7 • Suffering and Consolation

    7 And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.
    1. With those first few words, 
      1. Paul expressed the wish of every preacher I know. 
      2. We want the best for the people with whom we work. 
      3. We want them stable. 
      4. We do not want them to fall away. 
    2. Here Paul had a steadfast hope for the Corinthians because 
      1. they partook in both the sufferings and the consolation. 
      2. How does partaking in both make us stable as Christians? 
  5. 1.8–11 • What Suffering Teaches Us

    8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.
    1. Here Paul explained the suffering that the preachers experienced. 
      1. The brethren in Corinth in Europe needed to know 
      2. of the preachers suffering in Asia, 
        1. that it was all about the gospel. 
        2. It was all about saving lost souls. 
    2. The suffering became so severe 
      1. that it went beyond the ability of the preachers as men to endure it. 
      2. They believed that they were going to die. 
    3. However, what did the sentence of death teach them? 
      1. It taught them that they should not trust in themselves. 
      2. Instead they should trust in God, 
        1. He is the One who raises the dead, 
        2. perhaps speaking in a figure sense here, 
          1. that though the sentence of death was on the preachers, 
          2. God saved them from it, 
            1. thus raising them from the dead, 
            2. even as He will literally raise us all in the end. 
    4. By the way, 
      1. if the Bible teaches us not to trust in ourselves, 
      2. why do Christians trust in themselves? 
    5. In addition to God, to what did Paul credit the saving from death? 
      1. He credited the prayers of the saints in Corinth. 
      2. Do we truly know the power of prayer? 
        1. It is not that prayer has power, but 
        2. that prayer connects us with the power. 


  1. Do not expect life to be nothing but comfort. 
    1. Sometimes we have to suffer. 
    2. Learn to use your suffering as a learning experience, or 
      1. use it to benefit another person. 
      2. You can also use your good life to help others.