“And our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are partners in our sufferings, so also you are in our comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:7).
Jeff Struecker, United States Army Ranger Veteran and Pastor of 2 Cities Church in Columbus, Georgia, ministered to Bellevue’s staff this past week. On Monday, he spoke to our entire staff and on Tuesday, he spoke specifically with our Ministerial Assistants (MAs) on 2 Corinthians 1:7 and the iron foundry—or the power of shared suffering. He shared that in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he writes to his brothers and sisters in Christ. When Paul uses the word “hope," in this case he really means “faith” or “trust." Paul is comforted by his grounded trust in his brothers and sisters in Christ—trust that is achieved only through shared suffering.
“Embracing shared suffering can forge a bond between individuals and teams that cannot be broken," Jeff shared.
Jeff encouraged the MAs not to chase suffering but to embrace it with confidence in the Lord who is sovereign over all things. He shared his personal testimony about fighting in Somalia during Desert Storm, the trials of that season, and the aftermath. Jeff shared that in 2013, one of his closest friends, Keni Thomas, asked Jeff to return to Somalia with him. The two recognized the dangers of this venture, but Jeff also recognized his friend’s desire for peace and closure. Because of their deep friendship rooted in shared faith as well as shared suffering, Jeff agreed to accompany Keni on this trip.
This trip, originally intended only for closure and as a quest for peace, became an opportunity to spread the Gospel. Campus Crusades for Christ (CRU) heard of their trip and produced the film Bulletproof Faith. In this short documentary, Jeff shares his experience and presents the Gospel. Click here to learn more about Jeff’s story.
As you read 2 Corinthians 1:7 through your own lens, how have you found this to be true in your life? While not everyone participates in war, we all have faced challenging seasons within our families, jobs, school, or a number of other ways.
Over the last year, the world has faced many challenges and heartbreaks. Now is the time to band together as family, believers, coworkers, or friends, creating a connection and bond that will serve us in our homes, our church, and in our communities for a lifetime.