3 Blessed is 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 troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. 7 And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort. 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. 9 Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again, (New English Bible).
It seems as we read this passage that suffering is a communal affair. We suffer so that we can help others when they suffer. But it even goes a step further. Verse 7 makes it a communal affair in that we share in the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Christ. So when you suffer, I suffer. When I suffer, you suffer with me. We are to never suffer alone. The opposite is also true in this passage we should never be comforted alone. Comfort, too, is a communal affair. We look forward to the time when God delivers us for good and we spend eternity with Him.
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I think of when I am suffering and going through troubles is that it’s supposed to be a communal affair. I think of myself, my own hurt and struggle. I don’t think of how it could benefit those I am connected to. I lose my wits and only think of myself. Rarely have I thought about how I could use the present sufferings and troubles as future encouragement for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet that is one of the reasons we suffer, we have troubles. When I have been comforted I haven’t thought about the communal implications in that. We do it together as a way of showing our love and encouragement to one another. The next time we hit troubles and suffering in our lives let’s keep our wits about us and contemplate how these present sufferings and trouble can be used to encourage our community when someone else suffers and is troubled. What a blessing to others we can become.
Father God thank You for this great insight into the suffering and trouble we experience. Help us to encourage our brothers and sisters with the suffering you permit in our lives when we see them in similar situations. Thank You that You waste nothing in our life experiences. They are all used to glorify You and further Your Kingdom plans. We pray these things in the strong Name of Jesus, Amen!