God’s Consolation

The prayer that begins this letter also states the theme of Paul’s words to the church.

“Consolation” is used so frequently in verses 3-7 that is almost a tongue-twister when reading the passage aloud.

2 Corinthians 1.3-7Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,

Who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

If we are being afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation; if we are being consoled, it is for your consolation, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we are also suffering.

Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our consolation.

I think a study of the words in these verses will increase our appreciation of Paul’s prayer.

(1) Consolation is the focal point of the prayer. The word is used ten times in this short prayer.

In Greek it is a compound word: “Para,” alongside and “Kaleo,” to call.

When Jesus described the Holy Spirit, he called him the Paraclete – the One who was called alongside believers.

The Holy Spirit plays a big role in providing consolation to God’s suffering people.

John 14.15-17“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.

This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

Jesus walked with his followers while he was on earth. Upon his departure, he promised another One who would walk by their side.

We have the presence of the Holy Spirit – the Paraclete, Advocate, Comforter, Counselor – to abide with us and in us.

Christians know God’s consolation through the work of the Holy Spirit.

(2) Affliction involves pressure. Afflicted people are caught in a vise of painful circumstances, resulting in anguish, persecution, tribulation, or trouble.

(3) Suffering entails hardship or pain that must be endured.

The same Greek word that is translated as “suffering,” is also used for “passion.” There is an interesting play on the word when we realize that Jesus was so passionate for humans that he went through the suffering of the cross.

(4) Patiently endure is another compound Greek word. It pictures someone remaining under a load.

People who suffer for Christ’s sake would remain under a load of affliction than deny the reality of Jesus in their lives.

With these definitions in mind, return to Paul’s prayer. Experiment using the prayer to ask God for his consolation for afflicted and suffering persons who come to your mind.

Affliction and Trust

Suffering brings humans to an end of themselves. At that point, they turn to their only hope and rely on God.

2 Corinthians 1.8-11 We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself.

Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death so that we would rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again,

As you also join in helping us by your prayers, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

The persecution that Paul experienced was the result of his faithful witness to the living Lord.

The program of Alcoholic’s Anonymous describes the self-inflicted affliction of its adherents.

Both Paul and the addict experience pain and suffering that leads them to God.

The Big Book of AA describes the point where self-sufficiency ends and trust in God begins.

“No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands.

“But upon entering A.A. we soon take quite another view of this absolute humiliation. We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.

The self-inflicted affliction of addiction leads the addict to pray the Third Step prayer of surrender to God

“God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.

“Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.”

There are no “Lone Rangers” in the faith. As profound as was Paul’s relationship with God, he depended on the prayers of the church.

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians reveal that the church has many problems. However, their prayer was powerful and necessary for Paul’s ministry.

The example of Paul and the church in Corinth should encourage us to ask for prayer and to offer prayer for one another.

Whether our affliction is self-inflicted or imposed on us from another source, connection with the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit, who is called to our side) through prayer is essential.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel. Rudy offers insights into the Bible from his Jewish heritage and hours of Bible study.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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