2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1
A Right Regard to Suffering
Affliction and suffering are always unpleasant. So often they can lead to discouragement. How do you and I react when affliction and suffering come our way? Do we run from them? Do we embrace them? Do we deny they exist? In our Epistle lesson for today St. Paul gives us a right regard with respect to suffering and affliction.
Paul has a unique perspective. Consider his situation. Even though his physical body is weakening and decaying inwardly he is being renewed. What is it that Paul has come to understand? He knows that his affliction is being used by God to accomplish a higher and greater good. Listen to verse 17 of our text for today: “for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” This morning let us consider Paul’s perspective regarding suffering and affliction. What is Paul’s take on human suffering and affliction?
I. Affliction and suffering can be used as opportunities for renewal. Listen to verse 16: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”
A. Naturally, Paul’s words run contrary to conventional thinking. Decay and weakness rather than renewal appear to be the marks of affliction and suffering.
1. Think of how sickness weakens the body.
2. Think of how wrongs done to us can negatively affect our body and our mind. I can remember speaking to one of our members who commented that after one such event things are never quite the same. She described it as “a new sense of normal.” There were things that were normally done before. Now there is a new standard or routine.
3. Affliction and suffering make us keenly aware that our body is only an earthly tent that is being destroyed. (5:1)
B. Although it often accelerates the decay of the body, affliction and suffering can nevertheless direct us to Christ for inward renewal. Again, listen to verse 16: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”
1. The very life of Jesus manifests itself in us (v.10) when we believe that, though “we are afflicted in every way” God will not allow us to be crushed (v.8) and that our inner life hidden with Christ in God can never be destroyed.
2. The life of Jesus manifests itself when affliction and suffering in our lives produces endurance and character. Paul put it this way in Romans 5:3-5 “...we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. 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.”
Transition: God’s purpose in affliction and suffering goes beyond this life, however.
II. Affliction and suffering are preparation for glory.
A. Affliction and suffering make us more conscious of eternal values.
1. There is a strengthening of faith that confesses Christ as crucified and risen for us. Listen again to verses 13-14 of our text for today: “It is written: I believed; therefore I have spoken. With the same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence"
2. Our own resurrection and acceptance by God is made strong through suffering and affliction. We will stand before Him on the last day. “...we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence”
B. Affliction and suffering make us more heavenly minded.
1. We become more aware of how transitory of our present life really has become. We become aware of the momentary state of affliction in comparison to eternity.
2. We wait for the glorified body that will not be afflicted in any way in glory. In glory there will be an end of suffering, an end to pain, an end to misery.
Affliction and suffering are opportunities for renewal. They are preparation for glory. In the midst of life we are in death. When we have this perspective on affliction and suffering, we will be able to say with the Psalmist David: “It is good for me that I was afflicted” (Psalm 119:71)
Passive Sentences – 1%
Readability – 61.0%
Reading Level –7.8