Read: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (v. 7)
I haven’t experienced the suffering of which Paul wrote. This suffering is not the stuff of natural disaster, war, illness, and loss, which are common to us all. The sufferings Paul has in mind are the afflictions that Christians endure because they are Christians: ostracism, discrimination, humiliation, persecution, imprisonment, and even death. These are the traumatic experiences believers in the first century endured, and the same sufferings have been endured throughout the centuries that have followed.
I have heard firsthand the stories of believers who not only survived such suffering but also found in them new depths of strength and faith in the God of grace. The stories sound like hymns of joy sung in a Philippian jail. Rather than causing them to question God’s existence, suffering actually confirmed God’s sustaining presence, turning suffering into powerful witness and spiritual comfort.
In hearing their stories, I found new strength to witness more faithfully beyond my own doubts and fears. While we work for the relief and safety of the church “under the cross,” we need not fear for its faith, though we do need to pray for them: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3). —Bruce Menning (March 2, 2004)
As you pray, pray for encouragement, safety, and strength for believers living under persecution today.