Comfort Still More
2 Corinthians 1:1-7
August 7, 2022
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a pastor and theologian in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. He not only was opposed to the doctrine of Naziism, but was one of only a few pastors to publicly oppose Hitler and his regime. His vocalism against Hitler propelled him into leadership of the Confessing Church of Germany and founding an underground seminary in Finkenwald, Bavaria, which was later closed by Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler. Bonhoeffer then joined the resistance movement and was arrested and imprisoned in Germany by the Gestapo in April, 1943. He continued to serve the church by writing from prison, including his well-known, Letters from Prison, which became a best seller after the war.
Among the letters he wrote is a poem for his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, entitled “New Year 1945.” The third stanza says:
Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving
Even to the dregs of pain,
At thy command, we will not falter,
Thankfully receiving all that is given
By thy loving hand.
Those words of humble acceptance of God’s providence over suffering were followed by his execution three months later in Flossenbürg prison. He was martyred by hanging on April 9, 1945; V-E day was 30 days later on May 8, 1945. It almost seems to be tragically pointless.
It begs the question about suffering and what God is working in our suffering. Is it as unfair and pointless as it seems at times? Yes, suffering is hard. The kinds of persecutions God’s people have endured in history and are enduring even now are often bitter and harsh. But suffering is not unfair. Suffering is not pointless.
This year, we are thinking about how to Excel Still More in the calling that God has given us as a church. As we grow both numerically and spiritually, how can we persist in faithfulness to the Lord and maintain the distinctiveness of who God has made us as a church? So we are thinking about areas and ways that we can excel in our spiritual life as a church — particularly in loving one another. We’ve done it well. We want to grow in that excellence even more this year.
For the next two weeks, we are going to think on this theme of excelling spiritually, and this morning we are going to relate it to the theme of suffering, by looking at the opening verses of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In 1:1-7, we will discover that…
In suffering we receive God’s comfort and are equipped to share God’s comfort with others.
In these opening verses to a struggling church, Paul reveals four realities about suffering and comfort:
BACKGROUND/CONTEXT (vv. 1-2)
- God is Comforter (v. 3)
- When God Comforts (v. 4a)
- Why God Comforts (v. 4b-5)
- The purpose and universality of trouble (v. 4b)
- The nature of trouble (v. 5)
- The extensiveness of comfort (v. 4c-5)
- The Benefits of Troubles and God’s Comfort (vv. 6-7)
- Personal suffering is for corporate benefit (v. 6)
- Personal suffering produces steadfastness (v. 7)
Implications for Troubles and Comfort at GBC
Download the rest of this sermon on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.