Text:  II Corinthians 1:3-11 “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for you consolation and salvation.  And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.  For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us; Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

The last two messages we have looked at Psalm 37 in regard to dealing with hurt.  We saw the fleshly response and then the spiritual response God wants us to have.  The messages dealt with basically, interpersonal relationships, dealing with others on a one on one basis.  That is what we have dealt with up to now, the hurt that is involved in dealing with others.  This time I want to deal with another aspect of hurt.  What about when circumstances or things hurt you?  How should God’s person respond? I also wish to deal with the why question.  Why did this happen to me?  I do want to point out that what I am talking about will be to God’s people.  When I say that, I am talking to people who have at some time in their life realized they are a sinner apart from Christ and have recognized their need to repent of their sins and have received Christ as Savior.  There are two groups of people in the world, those that know Christ as Savior and those that do not.  The saved and the lost.  This material will deal with lost people also, somewhat, because God may have to put you in a specific position or circumstance so you will see the need of the Savior in your life.  Many times God has to allow circumstances or things to enter a person’s life so they will listen to Him.  Maybe you are in that position today.  Whenever circumstances press in on us there are questions that are asked.  Why Me?  Why Now?  Why This?  I read about a young man who was on his way to Ecuador as a missionary.  He wanted to drop a note to his mother before he left New York Airport.  He saw a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up.  The scrap was part of a printed advertisement, with the single word WHY across the center. He wrote a note on it and put it in an envelope to be delivered to his mother.  His dreams were to build a ministry.  His plane went down and he died.  When his mother received the envelope, the question burned up at her from the page.  WHY? It is the question that hits first and lingers longer.  WHY? Why Me?  Why Now?  Why This?  The things that I am going to say today will not answer all your whys.  There is only One who can do that and knows you are hurting and is ready to help.  One thing I do want to say is Get Ready as a human being it will happen.  We cannot prepare for a crisis after that crisis occurs.  Preparation must take place before we are nose to nose with the issue.  Sometimes we are barely keeping balance on the spiritual tightrope as we are, then something shakes the rope and disaster blows into the door. 

Proverbs 24:10 “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.”

If the “day of adversity” caused you to stagger and slump into depression, your strength was small.  In other words, the real test of your spiritual stability does not come while your little pond is free from ripples.  It comes when the waves of suffering roll in.  If you maintain an optimistic, faithful outlook, your strength is great.  You were properly prepared for the day of distress.

Jeremiah 12:5 “If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses?  And if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?”

If you are barely limping along now, barely able to handle life’s pressures, what are you going to do when the Calvary charges in?  God wants you to be properly prepared for the days of affliction because they will come.  That is what this message is about.

Job 23:10-13 “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.  My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.  Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.  But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? And what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.”

Job lost his crops, his cattle, his home, his property, his children and finally his health.  On top of this his wife told him to curse God and die.  He spent days bankrupt and broken and he spent many days listening to a few so called friends who pointed self-righteous fingers and blamed him for all his own trouble.  Did you notice what Job told his friends?  “God desired to bring these troubles into my life, and he knows what is best.  I will not turn aside in doubt”.

Job 23:14 “For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him.”

God performs – means He brings about – causes what is appointed for me.  The suffering I faced is exactly what God has ordained.  He either appoints the affliction or allows it to happen for your good.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

There are two things every child of God must know:

  1. We should be prepared for suffering before the suffering occurs.
  2. Whatever the affliction, it has been appointed or approved by God our heavenly Father, for our good.
  3. If you as a Christian can get these two things cemented in your mind and grasp them, then you are ready to move on to II Corinthians 1, not until.  You must understand these two points.
  4. II Corinthians is a personal letter.  Paul bares his deep personal struggle and allows us to glimpse at something of what he had to endure.

It would be good to take a pen and circle all the terms in II Corinthians that deal with suffering.  You will find there will be red circles all through the book.  II Corinthians is also God’s personal letter written by Him and addressed to you if you are hurting.  Closer than anything else, this book approaches the “WHY” question. 

Several years ago a friend of mine had some real tragedy in his life.  His first wife died of cancer.  He then remarried and his second wife was killed when the furnace exploded in their home killing his father and wife.  He then remarried and his third wife and ten-year-old son were killed in an automobile accident.  I went to the hospital to see him and he screamed out at me, Why? “Why am I always left?  Why them and not me?”  II Corinthians 1 gives three very important reasons for suffering.

Why do we suffer?  There may be dozens of reasons why we suffer but Paul gives three.  In II Corinthians 1 there is a very important little four-letter word introducing the reasons.  You might want to underline it.  VS 4, 9,11 The word “That”.

II Corinthians 1:1-4 “Paul, an apostle or Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia: Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

In verses 1-7 there is a word that appears no less than ten times, the word “comfort”.  There are two Greek words involved.  PARA meaning “beside, alongside” and KALEO meaning “to call”.  “Called alongside.”  The term means God is called alongside as we suffer. 

II Corinthians 1:3 “Blessed be God even the Father of our lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;”

The last phrase – He is the “God of all comfort”.  Regardless of the need God comforts. 

II Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

First phrase – “all our tribulation” Tribulation – trouble.  He comforts those who are in any affliction.  So just draw a circle around your situation and recognize that.  Each and every affliction is His concern, He cares. 

I Peter 5:7 “Casting all you care upon him; for he careth for you.”

He genuinely and deeply cares.  Then why are we afflicted?

II Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

This is the first reason.  “That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble.”  That we might be prepared to comfort others.  Who can understand what it is like to sit alongside a friend or a loved one who is dying with a terminal illness?  A split up home?  The loss of a child?  A teenager on drugs?  An alcoholic husband?  Failure in school? The loss of a business?  Who understands?  I will tell you whom; the person who has went through it himself or herself the way God wanted them to.  You can handle a problem one of two ways, the wrong way or Gods way.

II Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

The way we were comforted by God.”  We can share that with this individual.  This is one of the reasons we suffer – to be prepared to bring encouragement and comfort to others who come across our path enduring a similar situation.  We need to remember that. 

Reason Two

II Corinthians 1:8-10 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;”

The answer is in verse 9 “That we should not trust in ourselves.”  Paul says we suffer so we can learn to come to complete end of ourselves and to learn total dependence on God.  When Paul’s own strength had ebbed away, he found another strength.  When Paul finally hit bottom, he learned he was in the palm of God’s hand.  He could sink no lower than the everlasting arms.  Maybe that is the position you are in right now?  You are stubborn; you are fighting, and resisting God.  You have not laid down your arms and decided to trust in Him completely.  My friend let me tell you something from experience; it will not get any better until you realize you are nothing in yourself.  Any thing that is accomplished for God must be done the way that He wants it done.

As a lost person, you may be resisting Him in the matter of salvation.  God may have to bring circumstances or things into your life to bring you to the point of receiving Him. 

Christian this problem may be in your life because you are depending upon yourself and not God. 

Reason Three

II Corinthians 1:11 “Ye also helping together by prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.”

That we might learn to give thanks in everything.  I read a statement one time, which said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.”  That really struck home with me.  Paul was thanking these people because they had prayed for him in his afflictions and it really touched his life.  Because of Paul’s afflictions (and the way he responded to them) many were led to Christ.  God is interested in using us as living object lessons to others.

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect, will of God.”

He wants us to present ourselves as living sacrifices.  He is interested in using surrendered men and women. 

Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak in respect to want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Notice the phrase, “for I have learned”.  Folks, a whole new dimension is opened up to the one who learns to give God thanks for His plan, even though there may be much pain involved. 

I Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

God allows our suffering:

  1. That we might be prepared to comfort others.
  2. That we might not trust ourselves.
  3. That we might learn to give thanks in everything.

Nothing enters your life accidentally – remember this.  There is no such thing as “luck” or “coincidence” or “blind faith” to the child of God.  Behind our every experience is our loving sovereign God.  He is continually working things out according to His infinite plan and purpose and that includes our suffering.  When God wants to do an impossible task, he takes an impossible individual and crushes him.  Being crushed means being redeveloped to be a vital, useful instrument in His hands.    While I was a student in Bible College I was introduced to the story of Charles Weigle. Charles Weigle was in the ministry and his wife left their marriage. She left a note on the family piano saying she was leaving and did not want to be involved with Christianity any longer.   She died not too long after that living a wicked, immoral life.  Dr. Weigle was crushed.  He wept and sat down at the piano that night and wrote the world famous song, “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.”   Are you in that kind of place of despair today?

Many Christian families are on the sideline today, not serving God, because people, circumstances, or things have hurt them.  In all three of these, the big question is whether you will trust God or not?  Most Christians are lead by their emotions in times like these.  Being led by your emotions will lead you into sin every time.  You will not be in a position to be an effective servant of the Lord because of your concern for yourself.  Turn your emotions over to God and seek to realize what God desires in your life rather than being angry with God, people, circumstances, and things. 

Finally, I wrote something in my Bible years ago that has been a real comfort to me.  “When hurt, turn to God in prayer, tell Him all that is on your heart, tell Him everything.”  Do not be led by your emotions, turn the issue to God and trust Him, then you can be emotionally free and be a useful servant of the Savior.