How To Get Through What We Are Going Through (March 29, 2020)
Series Big Idea: "God's grace is sufficient"
Sermon Big Idea: "God's strength is made more perfectly vivid in our human weakness"
Key Scripture (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
My friends, we are in uncertain times in our world. It’s scary. It’s depressing. It’s serious. But even though we may be scared, depressed, and even discouraged, we are going to call on the name that is above every other name, the name of Jesus. And that’s what I want to talk to you for just a moment today. How to get through what we are going through.
In the Scripture we will read today, the Apostle Paul is continuing to defend his character against his rivals. Although he experienced suffering and pain and even at times wanted to boast in himself for making it through, in the end his character stood in contrast to his rivals. He boasted in his weaknesses and this was in stark contrast to his opponents.
(2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Boasting is necessary. It is not profitable, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know, God knows. I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I don’t know, God knows— was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak. I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
We shouldn’t drive ourselves crazy trying to think what Paul’s thorn in the flesh could have been. Because some might feel ashamed that they can’t conquer something far less or others might feel boastful that they have greater infirmities. The truth is that it tormented Paul and he considered it a scheme of the devil.
Paul writes honestly in this passage about his life. He chooses to dwell on his unrelieved pain so his readers would hear what God said to him in response to his prayer; “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect I weakness.”
My friends, pain hurts. What we are experiencing in the world right now confuses us and that hurts us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But what can we learn from Paul’s experiences that will give us help in a time like this?
God never promised to remove all of our pain and suffering
It is true, when Jesus walked the earth, He healed a lot of people. He brought peace to many situations. But one thing He never did was to trick people into faith in Him by offering them immunity from suffering.
As our gracious Savior, Jesus took the punishment for your sins and my sins, so we are free from sins punishment. But not from life’s suffering. Paul had a hope to never suffer again, but yet he still experienced the pain of an imperfect world.
All of us are experiencing some sort of pain and suffering right now all over this planet. Not all are dying of this dreaded virus, but we are all affected by it in some way. Some have lost jobs; others have had food and medicine disrupted. Some have lost loved ones. But all of us are experiencing the loss of control. We don’t know what tomorrow might bring. And that scares us. So, pastor if God doesn’t always remove our pain and suffering, what does He do?
God does promise to walk through our pain with us
No, God never promised to remove all our pain and suffering, but He does offer grace that is sufficient to see us through the pain, our sorrow, our confusion, and our discouragement.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
God didn’t initiate Paul’s pain, but He did redeem it. It was through Paul’s pain God gave him a richer understanding of His grace. A grace that is sufficient to carry him through his suffering but also to equip him to minister more capably to others. It was because of his pain and suffering that he was able to share the love of Christ with others in a more genuine and emphatic way.
Church, I know you are confused, you are hurting, you are discouraged. But you and I have a hope the world doesn’t have. As this world crisis continues and prayerfully one day comes to an end, there are people who are really going to need us. It may even be you who needs the help.
We can be a powerful witness at a time like this because we are all going through the same thing at the same time. Now, more than ever, we need to hold on the His unchanging hand. Don’t let the pain and suffering get your focus off the Lord Jesus.
While it certainly is true that good health and a great life are a blessing from God, it is also true that pain and difficulty can be God’s chosen instruments to accomplish His purposes in this world. Let’s stay strong by leaning on the only One we can lean on; Christ Jesus.
Pastor Beaver's thoughts and ideals for this message, are inspired by:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
English Standard Version Bible
King James Version Bible
Christian Standard Bible
The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord/Roy B. Zuck
The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by Jerome H. Smith
Water, Mark, ed. Encyclopedia of Bible Facts. Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2004. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Barry, John D. et al. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016. Print.
NIV, Archaeological Study Bible, eBook: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Duane Garrett, and Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
NIV, First-Century Study Bible, eBook: Explore Scripture in Its Jewish and Early Christian Context
Zondervan, Kent Dobson, and Ed Dobson
Hubbard, Moyer V. 2 Corinthians. Ed. Mark L. Strauss. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books: A Division of Baker Publishing Group, 2017. Print. Teach the Text Commentary Series.
Hughes, Robert B. and J. Carl Laney. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1990. WORDsearch CROSS e-book. Revised edition of New Bible Companion.
Phillips, John. Exploring 2 Corinthians: An Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2002. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Pratt, Richard. I & II Corinthians. Edited by Max Anders. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
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