Here is the handout from the 2 Corinthians class on Sunday. We had a really good group and lots of discussion afterwards. Thank Chuck and Alecia for bringing the food! That was great! I hope you all have a great week and remember that every negative experience that we face in life is just meant to bring us closer to the Lord – so that we will trust in Him instead of in ourselves. A good resource concerning the reason behind suffering can be found here at the website of a Baptist church in England that deals with the topic.
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 – The Purpose of Suffering
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
In our life, suffering produces a dependence on God, not upon ourselves. It strips us of a sense that we can handle life and it drives us to the Lord. Consider the following:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Ephesians 6:10 tells us to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. We can only learn to be strong in the Lord when we have ceased trying to be strong in our own strength. We can only learn to trust God when we cease trusting in ourselves. God uses suffering in our lives to help us trust in God at all times and to cause us to cling to Him.
Can you think of a time when suffering brought you closer to the Lord?
How did you learn to care for and love others more after what you went through?
How can you pray for each other to become strong in the Lord and to trust in Him in the midst of difficult times?