Sunday’s Scripture – June 6, 2021
In second Corinthians, Paul is in the middle of defending his apostleship. And he claims that one of the proofs for his authority is his suffering. God’s strategy is always surprising and seemingly upside down. If you want to live, you must first die.
A simple understanding of suffering is wanting what you don’t have or having what you don’t want. In other words, everyone is suffering in one way, shape, or form. We are suffering to varying degrees and with different intensities, to be sure. But suffering is a fundamental reality of the human experience. No one gets out unscathed.
But, if God is all-powerful and all-good, then why does He allow suffering? God doesn’t answer that question, but simply invites us to trust Him. This is the problem of pain and it is perhaps still the best argument for atheism. But it fails to see the supernatural reality underneath the physical one. And it no longer makes sense when our vision is inspired with faith and we see beyond the suffering to its eternal purpose and glory.
“Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:16-18)
How was Paul able to look at his suffering as slight and momentary? His perspective was eternal. He looked through Kingdom spectacles. He had on his “perspectacles,” if you will.
The Christian understanding of suffering is unique. Christians don’t try to avoid, evade, escape or even transcend pain. Instead, because we know God redeems all things, we bear suffering with joy for the sake of others and the glory of God. Paul knew, and we believe, that it’s actually a privilege to share in the sufferings of Christ.
“Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” (2 Cor 4:15)
Are you suffering? Do not lose heart. (2 Cor 4:16) Put on your perspectacles and look again. By God’s grace, suffering (yes, even yours) is always more than meets the eye.
- What do you want that you don’t have or have that you don’t want right now?
- Do you have a truly Christian view of suffering? Take stock and pray for God to align your thinking with God’s.
- What suffering in your life has God redeemed? Will you offer your current suffering to God for redemption and, in the meantime, joyfully share in Christ’s sufferings?