“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
~2 Corinthians 1:7 (NIV).
The image set before us is of two soul-mates, fighting back to back as it were; well, it could be—out of context, certainly, with the predominant Corinthian struggle.
‘Strength to endure’ is quite plainly in view.
Paul’s ideal—shuffling back and forth through this letter, and the last, in the New Testament canon—is to proclaim the way of philo/agape-love; that love that lives for the other, inextricably attached, umbilical-cord-attachment, from the spiritual viewpoint.
One Sharp Divergence
The Corinthian context presents something of a sharp divergence. Some were faithful with Paul—good friends when the tests came to be—but, equally, others were not. Yet it’s not really the present focus; it just had to be said, that’s all.
In Love, We Share—No Matter What
When we have this form of love surging through us we’re by hook or by crook going into to battle—any battle—to the support of that person we love. Our present happiness is nothing in comparison.
Paul is deeply in love with the Corinthians, like all his beloved brothers and sisters, and the churches he founded and supported along his missionary journeys. His heart ached at the divergences he experienced due any dissonance on their part.
Some dissonance, of course, was brought about by Paul for the purpose of tough love to bring about their repentance—it still pained his heart to know of the occasional stubborn pride existent in some; here, at least, with some of the Corinthians.
Still, when we’re committed in fellowship under God we’re a cord of three strands—we’re not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Reaching Down, Out and Through
We can’t help run after one another. Some of this might be unhealthy but it’s based in the right sort of basic love.
Our spirits are burned and charred as our critical relationships tear. Whilst this is true, so too is the opposite state—the mighty collusion of two or more souls bound together in an earth-ending grief, holding together in both discomfort and eventual comfort, together.
In this we quickly learn we must dip lower beneath the surface of things and get messy with it all—going to whatever lengths are necessary to support the other.
And this is, at once, heaven! Relieved of ourselves we find God in the midst of the others’ torment.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.