2 Corinthians 1 Devotional
Pastor Lawrence Bowlin
God’s providence is always a mysterious sanctification for his people. We may think we know some of the reasons why He orders this or that event to take place, but we cannot even begin to comprehend all that God intends to accomplish when he moves. Part of the reason for our shortsightedness is our own self-centeredness. We often think the world revolves around us when we are in fact a very minor character in the play of life.
In our passage this morning, Paul shares with the Corinthians that he and his team had experienced great affliction during their travels in Asia in which they were “so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” And he tells us that one of the reasons for this affliction was to make them not rely upon themselves but upon “the God who raises the dead,” so there was some personal lesson to be learned for them from their trials.
But that was not the only reason they has suffered in this way. In v.6, Paul says, “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation.” Most of us probably do not have the same sense of unity in the fellowship of the saints that Paul had, thus we cannot fully appreciate what he is saying here. Somehow, every trial that we face is not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consequently, when we suffer, when we grieve, and when we are in pain, it is not only that we might learn to rely more upon the Lord but that others might as well. Somehow, our whole life is a testimony to others for their own sanctification.
Our brothers and sisters are not mere spectators, though, of our trials and tribulations; they are co-laborers and co-sufferers with us. Notice in v.11 that in the midst of his afflictions, Paul exhorts the church of Corinth to help him and his team by prayer, “so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” Last week I said that when we pray, God sends his angels on their way. Here, also, we find that when we pray, God blesses believers in their way. Contrary to our earthly thinking, our afflictions are not mere annoyances nor are they a sign of God’s curse placed upon us. They are a mysterious means of sanctification not only for us but for our brothers and sisters in Christ that sets us all to praying and looking to God for help. But not only are these trials for the church, they are also for the Lord’s glory, for when God answers his people’s prayers on our behalf, it causes us all to give thanks and glory to the God of all comfort and mercy.