“Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will be partakers of the consolation.” 2 Cor 1:6-7
In 2 Cor 1, Paul is talking about something amazing – that God allows tribulation to come upon His children, who are ministers, so that when God delivers them from their tribulation, and comforts them in the midst of their suffering, they will know how to minister comfort to others who are suffering. In other words, we are here to be a blessing to others! That is our calling! We are not here to just live the most comfortable life we can afford. We are not here for ourselves!
Sometimes bad things happen because we open the door for them. Sometimes bad things happen because the enemy is out to get us. Sometimes bad things happen randomly, because we live in a fallen world. And sometimes bad things happen, because God is testing us and trying to grow us up and refine the dross out of us (think of Job). But sometimes bad things happen, just because our experience of the faithfulness of God, the comfort we received and the victory God eventually gave us, will minister to someone else down the road who is going through a bad thing and needs encouragement and comfort. Not everything that happens to us in this life, happens to us because of us, but because of purposes of God which He knows, one of which might be to minister comfort to someone else down the road!
The great deliverance from death that happened to Paul in Asia (2 Cor 1:8-9), might be this incident recorded in Acts:
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. Act 14:19
He may have been dead. The disciples gathered around him, no doubt praying, and he jumped up and went on his way. God may have indeed raised him from the dead, or healed fatal injuries that would have led to death without the Lord’s intervention. “Asia” is our Asia Minor, and “Achaia” is the Latin name for the province of Greece. Antioch and Iconium were major cities in Asia Minor.
At the end of this chapter, Paul addresses an accusation which was leveled against him by the Corinthian church – that he planted it, and said he would come back and visit it the next time he was in Greece, but then passed by it and did not visit. He broke his word, and on and on.
He responds, in essence: men may plan things, but it is what God wills that comes to pass. And through Jesus Christ, all His promises are Yes and Amen, so be it. That means His promises apply to us and our situation!
Let me just speculate here: remember how out of balance Corinth was, as we leaned from 1 Cor. Paul says that it was to spare them he passed by them (2 Cor 1:23), perhaps because if he had come when sin was reigning rampant in the church, he would have had to discipline them harshly to get everything back in order.
He left room for the Holy Spirit to work through his first letter of correction, to see if the leadership of the church could sort things out themselves. He was patient, just as God is in our lives. For us who are His children, He is like a loving Father, not a military drill sergeant.
A loving father instructs his children, then gives them room to try and succeed or fail, then instructs them again, etc. etc., correcting their course until they can succeed! A loving father uses leadership, example, gentleness, reward, and traning in obedience to guide his children into the path. Punishment and anger is a last resort for willful rebellion. A drill sergeant uses anger, harshness, and punishment to accomplish his ends in a short time. The Lord always starts with instruction and gentleness, and gives time to learn, and then ends with punishment only after He has been ignored.
Remember when He was teaching Moses and Israel about the Sabbath for the first time (Exo 16)? He gave them the instruction, then He gave them opportunity to obey. Then He repeated the instruction with correction. It was only after the 3rd or so time, when people were still disobeying, that there began to be consequences, which were light at first, and increased in intensity. That is how a loving father does things.