Have you ever had one of those moments when you have poured your heart out to someone regarding your suffering only to have them respond with a head nod that clearly signifies that they haven't a clue where you're coming from? They just don't get it. They don't understand. Clearly you are not on the same page and try as they might they just can't get on the same page.
Here's another scenario. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation about your afflictions with someone who HAS been there? Perhaps your trials have not been identical but you have both faced trials. Suddenly you find yourself with someone who can empathize and if that empathy is coupled with hope - hope in the Sovereign Christ who has wisely sent the storm for good purposes - then you have found a friend who can truly comfort you.
That second scenario is exactly what Paul is speaking of here in 2 Corinthians 1. Trials come and they come with purpose. They come that we might know and taste the mercy and comfort of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without a scraped knee we would never know the tenderness of a healing kiss, a secure hug, a safe lap, or a reassuring look. God comforts us when we ache. God is as strong as an omnipotent Father but He is also as tender and gracious and loving and kind as a faithful mother!
He "comforts us in all of our afflictions 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." Please note the "so that" found in the middle of verse 4. We are not comforted solely for ourselves. Life does not revolove around us - as much as we might wish that it did. Things are not ulitmately about us but about Him and His kingdom and His glory. Here in 2 Corinthians 1 we see that the God who loves us so dearly comforts us SO THAT we can return the favor, share the blessing, and give as we have been given.
My friends - those of you who have tasted of sorrow and affliction, those of you who may be drinking of it even now - are you hoarding the comforts of Christ that have been given to you or are you looking for ways to help, encourage, and strengthen others?
"The sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." In this world, sorrow and sadness, peril and pain, afflictions and anxiety abound - but His grace and mercy and peace and comfort over abound.
Let the comfort of Christ overflow from the cup of suffering and share the cup of His merciful refreshment with others. Your suffering is with purpose. Your comfort is with purpose. Purpose to comfort as you have been comforted.