I, Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.In his sermon, "The Weight of Glory," C.S. Lewis remarked, "The cross comes before the crown, and tomorrow is Monday." In the passage above, we can see the close linking of sorrow and joy, suffering and relief, death and life, cross and crown. One might ask whether the suffering and sorrow are really necessary. The answer, I think, is "no." It is true that, in Adam, all have sinned; and yet, that wasn't true of Adam himself. For him, sin was optional. Once that option was taken, all else -- the ages of misery and death, and our redemption by Jesus -- followed by necessity. Other things are also necessary, though. If we humans are to be able to love God (and if "love" is to mean what we think it means), we must necessarily be free to not love Him. We must be free to sin. And then the nature of God makes it necessary for Him to redeem us, or at least those who are willing to be redeemed, at a vast price to Himself. The chains of necessity: how strong they are, to bind even the Creator of all! His chain is consistency to His own nature; He cannot simultaneously be Himself and not Himself.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; 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. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers in our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.
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