CROSS AND RESURRECTION
Loving Lord, I need your courage and grace to listen, to answer, to care, and to rejoice.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 1:1-11
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Praise to the God of All Comfort
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
- 2 Corinthians 1:8 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in 8:1; 13:11.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray for grace today to ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’1 the Word of God.
The themes of cross and resurrection permeate the whole of the New Testament. As Christ was raised out of death by God’s power, so we can trust that, whatever befalls us in life, God can bring life from it (v 9). It requires a mighty leap of faith to believe this and the timescale is not for us to determine, but Christ defines who God is and what God can do and so the confidence has a solid foundation.
This is a comforting faith and it is no weakness to acknowledge that all of us need at times to be comforted. We might all share in the sufferings of Christ at some level. Paul could claim that he did so ‘abundantly’ (v 5) and he was not wrong. The precise nature of the troubles of which he speaks in verse 8 are not clear, but he has referred (probably metaphorically) to fighting with ‘wild beasts in Ephesus’.2 Paul was a brave man, but his was not a false machismo. He was emotional as well as passionate, vulnerable as well as resilient. He did not believe that as an apostle of Christ he was exempt from sufferings – quite the opposite: as a servant and apostle he was bound to suffer with Christ (v 5). He had looked into the abyss of death (v 9), but he was delivered, and he trusted that God would again deliver him. Moreover, he saw in all of this a divine purpose: he was receiving God’s comfort in Christ so that he might comfort others and they too might endure in the faith of Christ (v 6). This man’s life was defined by God’s overall purpose of salvation.
Let us admit it: in trouble and tragedy, in sorrow and sadness, we need the God who raises the dead. In him we place our trust.
‘Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.’3
Risen Lord Jesus, I acknowledge that life has its ups and downs; I’ve had my share of both. I thank you for the good times, and for bringing me through the hard times.
1 Thomas Cranmer, collect for the second Sunday in Advent 2 1 Cor 15:32 3 Ps 34:8, TNIV
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