2 Corinthians 1:6–7 (NKJV) — 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. 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.
Suffering! Who likes suffering? Suffering often leads to self-centeredness and feeling sorry for self. Self-pity ensues. Out of self-pity bitterness comes. The question comes, “Why me?” We may even say “I don’t deserve this.”
This was not true of Paul. He writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.” We do not know specifically what Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” was. But we do know, even though God did not remove it, Paul was not stopped in carrying out God’s call for his life.
God uses suffering in our lives to help other followers of Christ. Our suffering is a witness to others of the comfort of God even in the most dreadful circumstances of life. We may think the greatest witness of God in us is prosperity. Paul knew his “affliction” was not just to keep him humble before God, but a witness to others.
A person who believes in God follows and trusts Him no matter the circumstances in life. (I believe we are living in a time when we will see this played out.)
Our suffering is witnessed by the world. Maybe for some, the question is, if God loved so much, why is this person suffering? Others witness in the believer’s life a trust in and a love for God seen in:
- The bad times as well as the good times
- The sufferings of life as well as health
- The rejection and acceptance of the world
- The persecution as well as the prosperity of life
God uses suffering in our lives to produce endurance in others.
Philippians 2:1–2, 1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
2 Corinthians 4:17–18, 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.