A L O O K I N T O T H E A P O S T L E ' S H E A R T
After his opening remark and salutations, Paul begins his letter with a short doxology and message on comfort. This was the first thing on his mind and most likely the most important word Paul had for the Corinthians, since out of all the things that he wanted to tell the Corinthians, he chose to start with this message of encouragement. So let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul was so passionate and eager to tell the first-century Christians in Corinth—and ultimately us.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
~II Corinthians 1:3-4
This is a doxology, meaning that it’s a declaration of praise to the Lord for who He is and all that He’s done. It’s all about God. Paul doesn’t start his letter by jumping into all the issues the Corinthians had been having or their lack of acceptance of him. He starts with the focus on God. A God of mercy. A God who heals. A God who brings comfort in the midst of affliction.
What is affliction? When I first think of this word I picture Christians getting persecuted and beaten for their faith. But that’s not the only definition or example of affliction. Affliction can be mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical. It can take many different shapes and forms, but in a nutshell, affliction is anything that is weighing you down and causing you to feel weak and helpless. The literal Greek definition for the word affliction is “pressure.” Pressure from without—as in the form of persecution—and pressure from within like heavyheartedness, anguish of soul, and a burdened spirit.
Do any of these definitions resonate with you? Do you feel like you’re in the middle of a trying time? Maybe you’re experiencing great conflict with people, maybe it’s like what the Corinthians went through and there’s conflict in the church. Or maybe you’re in the midst of a health crisis, spiritual persecution, or family tragedy. No matter what type of affliction you’re experiencing, God is there to bring you comfort.
This was Paul’s opening message and his declaration of praise to the Lord, for the One who created the world by the breath of His mouth also brings divine comfort to those in affliction. What a precious promise and invaluable truth! It is one we must hold onto when all seems dark and the pressures of life rush in like a flood. So let us declare this doxology together and give God praise for His unending faithfulness, His unrelenting mercy, and His profound comfort.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…”
“He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”