2Co 1:5-7 “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 your 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.”
The book of the Acts of the Apostles records an occasion when the apostles were beaten for preaching Christ (Act 5:40-42). Rather than be intimidated by the beating and command of the council, they left rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to be publicly condemned for their belief in Jesus. They were so comforted by this conviction that, instead of being quiet, they were in the temple and going from house to house every day teaching and preaching about Jesus!
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul is quick to acknowledge that they are still suffering for their stand of teaching and preaching Jesus. As a matter of fact, Paul says they suffer greatly for their determination to continue in the Way. Yet, he is just as quick to assure the saints that the love and power of Jesus are still very real. In whatever measure they suffer, the comfort that comes by God’s Anointed is given in equal measure.
Further, Paul says that the servants of Jesus are not just afflicted for their own sakes. Those that are truly concerned with the ministering to the saints of God endure for the sake of those saints. Ministry in every capacity is about the consolation and deliverance of the church. Paul was not claiming that this ministry caused anyone to become a child of God or to be relieved of sin. Truly this is the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Yet, Paul spoke to the church of a salvation (deliverance) that was gained for their sakes through the afflictions born as ministers. The deliverance Paul spoke of was that as the saints were caused to suffer for the cause of Christ that they might have the example of faithful ministers who suffered the same. This is effectual (active, efficient) in enabling them to bear the suffering. It is important for us as ministers to be just as quick to share the consolation in Christ, for this too is effectual in the encouragement of the saints to be steadfast.
Although it is difficult to see God’s people in suffering, we must always remember that to be partakers with Christ we must also suffer with Him. We are able to have a confident belief (hope) in the steadfastness of those whom God has called into His service. This confidence comes from our shared assurance and experience that as certainly as we are partakers together in the sufferings, we are also partakers together in the consolation that abounds by Christ.
May we be counted worthy to abound in the sufferings of our Lord that we may also know the joy of abounding in His consolation!