2 Cor 13:11b, “… Be encouraged “ [Be of good comfort]~~.
As the old joke goes, “Cheer up, things could get worse.” So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse! Believers could leave the world’s problems outside the gathering and together celebrate the unchangeable wonder of personally knowing the God of creation and the redemption of the One who cares for them.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul uses the passive command form of the verb: “be comforted” or “take our appeal to heart.” The verb form is used 105 times in the New Testament. It is an important element of our walk with Christ.
Paul was not exempt from suffering and discouragement. Nothing went the way he had planned. Bearing the greatest news since the dawn of creation, he was still met with hostility and rejection. After being beaten and left for dead by the road, imprisoned, and thrown out of towns with only a handful of precious converts for all his effort, he arrived in Corinth extremely discouraged. He wrote, “We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it” (2 Cor 1:8NLT).
His heart’s desire was to see his fellow countrymen come to Christ, but he wrote, “From the Jews five times I received forty lashes less one, three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning” (2 Cor 11:25). He continued to write of his experiences (11:25b–28), yet there is no hint of self-pity, regret, bitterness or frustration! He just kept going.
Paul’s discouragement seemed to reach a peak by the time he got to Corinth. He did not know if he could go on. Then, at the end of his strength and determination, Paul learned in the midst of failure that a deeper consolation is waiting to be claimed: Jesus is with us through it all. “Lo, I am with you” is our comfort.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3b–4NET, Paul wrote, “The God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” The word comfort is the same verb as in 2 Corinthians 13:11. Later Paul tells us, “I learned in whatever state I am to be content. I know how to be abased [in need], and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:11–13). If Paul could be comforted by walking close to Jesus, so can I, and so can you.
“Father, Keep my heart satisfied in Your presence and my mind filled with Your purposes for my life. Grant me enough encouragement each day to stay positive for others who might become discouraged.”
In order to practice this command today, I am going to ….