Sharing in the sufferings of Christ richly qualifies us to comfort others with the comfort that we have experienced from God. Paul, no stranger to suffering, puts this principle into practice a number of times in this letter, in which he shares more of his struggles and afflictions than in any other letter, demonstrating again and again that God's power is perfected in weakness.
In verses 8-11 Paul specifically illustrates this ministry of encouraging others in their trials as he shares the strong â€˜comfortâ€™ that he received from God: â€˜Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.â€™ Here is a source of purpose in suffering that we could easily overlook - passing on what we have learned of the tender but strong consolation of the Father - so that others also might be delivered from despair in their trials even as God has delivered us!
John DUNKLEY BTh, Dip.Min. and Dip. Pastoral Studies. He is an ordained Baptist minister and has pastored a number of Baptist churches. He has also ministered at Westcare Baptist Mission - an inner city ministry and served as a voluntary Police Chaplain.