The road a true disciple of Christ will travel down is never a smooth road for it is always filled with bumps and bends along the way. The difference between the “broad way” and the “narrow way” is where they end up. Those traveling down the broad way may enjoy the pleasures this world has to offer and have an easier journey, but in the end there will be a punishment and the wrath of God abiding on those who travel this road. On the other hand, the “narrow way” is traveled by few but what a blessed path it is, for down this road in life we travel with our Savior Jesus Christ. In reading through 2 Corinthians lately and in light of some things I have gone through, I thought I would share two encouraging thoughts from this passage which have helped me tremendously.
1. One reason God sends us through the rough spots in our life is found clearly in 2 Corinthians 1:4 which says “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.” In relation to the context of this passage, it is important to notice that the people Paul is writing to had gone through much persecution and affliction. In verse 8 Paul declares the persecution he and other fellow believers experienced to the extent that they “despaired of life itself.” Imagine for a minute being in Paul’s position, constantly under attack by the people of the day for preaching of the Gospel. Not only was Paul attacked and persecuted on a daily basis for his belief and stand but it came to the point where he had begun to expect each day to die, whether it be through persecution or through some type of physical sickness, we do not know for sure what it was. Whatever the case may have been, Paul was living each day with the anticipation of it being his last. If we were in the same situation, what would our response be? Typically, as I have done myself, my response and the response of many would be to become depressed; but looking at 2 Corinthians Paul found comfort in the future. Verse 10 declares in the second part “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope and he will deliver us again.” Paul found comfort in God as the Deliverer, essentially reminiscing on how God had always been faithful to His promises and would continue to be. No matter how hard the road gets or how narrow it may be, we can rest assured we have the promises of God to deliver us and be by our side. More importantly, we can find hope knowing our life here is but a vapor and is to be lived to most glorify God whether it be in sickness or well-being, in prosperity or poverty, in life or in death. As I read once before, if God uses trials to conform us better into the image of Christ, then why do we resent and pray to be delivered from the very thing God is using to make us patient, humble, loving, and more like Christ in other areas? May we all be focused on living for Him no matter the cost. Additionally, another reason we may go through trials is to help others in the future and to help other Christians. Knowing that I may go through something for the benefit of another Christian who needs someone to talk to is such an encouraging and wonderful thought for me personally.
2. Another encouraging thought from this passage is found in verse 9 as to why we go through various afflictions in life. Verse 9 of chapter 1 declares “Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” Another reason the Christian goes down the road less traveled is to help us grow spiritually. So often we pray for God to help us grow spiritually but then when trouble comes we wonder why? More often than not, it is a direct answer to our very prayers. God uses events and circumstances to show us our need for Him. Trying to rely on friends or family or others will only lead to failure, turn to the God of your salvation and the One who has upheld you through everything. If we can trust God to save us, certainly we can trust God to use events for our own good as the Scripture says in Romans 8:28. So no matter what happens, realizing that God is using events, people, circumstances, tragedies, and everything else in life to draw us closer to Him is a comforting thought. God wants us to have a close and personal relationship with Him. In summary, two reasons we go through trials is to encourage others in similar situations and to help us to put our complete trust and dependence in Christ Jesus our Lord. As Paul said, “On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”