Read 2 Corinthians 1
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, 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.
Paul’s Change of Plans
12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. 21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
Paul underwent an incredible amount of pain and suffering on his missionary journey across the world. He was beaten, isolated, and taken prisoner all because he put his faith in Jesus. As you read his story in Acts, there are many times you can’t help but wonder how he considered it all to be worth it! In this chapter, Paul gives us some insight on how he made it through each and every day. He wrote that all of his pain, suffering, and anguish “happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” It was all worth it for Paul because God used his pain to reorient his reliance. Paul moved from a proud, independent Pharisee to a humble and desperate servant. While painful, this change in his heart simply led him to a better life.
We need to make a similar transformation each and every morning. If we aren’t careful, our flesh will do whatever it can to take control of our life. Without Christ, don’t want to rely on anything other than our own desires. But an inward focus leads to an exhausted life. Instead, God wants to free us up today by removing our control. We aren’t in the driver’s seat of what today offers. He is. He is the One who will supply the strength for today. He is the One who will provide peace today. Paul knew these things to be true because he had experienced them. So rather than foolishly relying on his own strength, he became a man desperate for the presence of God. The beginning of 2 Corinthians is a reminder to the church in Corinth, as well as to us, that we have no need to fear the future. We aren’t dependent on an easy path ahead, but rather we’re reliant on a steady and sure Savior.
What do you notice about how Paul describes God in this chapter?
How have you experienced God’s compassion and comfort? How have you been able to share that comfort with others?
Where do you need to reorient your reliance? In what things other than God have you been placing your trust?
Did You Know?
Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to deal with divisions in the church. When the problems still weren’t solved, Paul visited Corinth a second time, a visit that was painful for Paul and the church. Paul planned a third visit, but delayed it and wrote 2 Corinthians instead.