5For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow for us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows. 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. 6If we are comforted, it is to provide you with comfort so that you can endure the same sufferings with patience. 7Our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in suffering, so you also share in comfort. — 2 Corinthians 1:5-7
As I was considering writing about this verse, I asked myself if I have talked about suffering, hardship, and other â€œdownâ€ type stuff too much in these devotionals. Maybe I should be a bit more cheerful. But then I thought about how much talk there is about suffering through the Bible, and especially in talking about Jesus, and I decided to go ahead.
More important, however, than the amount of time the Bible spends in discussing suffering is this one fact: The Bible discusses suffering triumphantly. It’s always a matter of hope. In fact, Romans 6:1-11 touches on this whole issue and I think puts it in perspective. You should read the whole passage, but what it tells us is that we are buried with Christ in his death. But verse 8 gets right down to the point. If we die with Christ we are going to live with Christ as well. Wow!
Do you recall in school how certain children or young people were regarded as leaders, as people who were going places? What did many of the other students do? They would hang around that person. Well, you can think of being a Christianâ€”a follower of Jesusâ€”as the ultimate act of hanging around. We get so identified with Jesus that we go with him, right to the father’s side.
But at the same time we have to be willing to go with him wherever he goes. Sometimes that leader child or young person goes somewhere risky, and then the folks who want to hang around have a choice. Do you take the risk, or do you run away from the person you’ve been following? If you run away, something is lost.
And so it is with Jesus. We have to hang around him–â€in himâ€ is the Biblical phraseâ€”all the time, for everything, good or bad. But the great news is that Jesus always comes out on top. He’s crucified, but he rises from the dead. Perhaps â€œyou can’t keep a good man downâ€ should be the motto of Christianity.
In our 2 Corinthians passage Paul is carrying this forward. We, as Christ’s body on earth, share in his sufferings, but we do it together. We learn how to comfort one another because we have gone through similar things.
We also learn to triumph together, because we are all hanging aroundâ€”in Christâ€”and we’re all going where he’s going.
And that’s got to be good!