August 23 - Message Update

Why Does A Loving God Allow So Much Suffering? Part 2 – 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 – Pastor Eric

God allows suffering to show us all how sufficient and satisfying He truly is.

 

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic continues on without any certain end date, and the hard result is zoom fatigue, distance learning again, and more days filled with anxiety and loneliness.

 

This leads many to ask questions like: God, are you even in control of so much suffering - coronavirus, civil unrest, and uncontrollable fires? God, why don’t you just stop it if you are in control? God, are you even here?

 

These genuine and tough faith questions that lead us to ask this key question, why does a loving God allow so much suffering?

 

Paul was no stranger to suffering with a thorn in his flesh, and he knew what continuous suffering looked like and felt like.  His experience teaches us this central truth - God allows suffering to show us how all sufficient and satisfying He truly is. God allow us to go through times of hurt, pain, and loss in order for us to experience His grace and power. God allows continuous suffering for us to know He is all we need. 

 

(1) God allows suffering for us to know He is in control, not us. God allows us to go through difficulties to reveal to us that He is sovereign. Trials help us to wake up to the reality that God is the Master, and we are not. He is the leader; we are the disciple. (1 Corinthians 12:1-6)

 

Paul begins by writing about himself in somewhat of a strange way in the third person. Paul uses third person to draw attention away from himself, because he wants his opponents to know it’s about God, not him.

 

Paul explains that his vision came from the third heaven and paradise. The third heaven is the highest heavenly realm, the very throne room of Heaven.  This is the place where Christ sits, dwells, and reigns on His heavenly throne. 

 

God gives Paul a special revelation to carry him through special circumstances.  Paul needed this eternal perspective into the kingdom of God, so that he would know God holds the heavens, and thus God holds everything else on earth.

 

God doesn’t always provide us with an extraordinary experience like Paul, but if you have come to faith in Christ, then you too have received that supernatural experience.  Heaven has come down to earth. The Holy Spirit has taken over the unholy throne room of your heart, and He has now transformed it like only God can. If you have never experienced God, then it’s because you have never put your faith in God. This is the time to do so. Come to faith in Jesus today. 

 

In this passage, Paul takes us to the throne room of Jesus Christ to show us who’s boss and who’s in control.  The King sits in Heaven powerfully in control of the world and your world even the suffering that you are going through right now. Thus, you can trust Him, you can rest in Him, and you can be assured of what He’s doing is good no matter the circumstance.

 

(2) God allows suffering for us to experience the sufficiency of His grace. God allows us to go through difficulties to show us that He is all sufficient. He is enough. There isn’t anything else in this world that you need more than you need God. There are no substitutes for a relationship with God. (1 Corinthians 12:7-9)

 

Suffering keeps Paul humble and not to be conceited with a thorn in his flesh. This thorn could have been a personal illness, a physiological disorder, or an opponent in the church. Most scholars believe it was some type of physical suffering, because it was a consistent struggle.  But the vagueness of the thorn tells us that Paul was not concerned with a medical diagnosis, but he is more concerned with its theological origin. This theological origin was sent by Satan but allowed and given by God. This is no accident.  In all regards, it was gift, a blessing in disguise from God as He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

This is one of the most powerful and profound statements in all of Scripture. God’s grace is all you need. This grace is the unmerited favor of God, where we deserve Hell and judgment of God, but we receive God’s blessing of eternal life. And add to that powerful truth that not only does God supply the power to save, but God supplies the power to live. So, in the midst of suffering, we not only experience the sufficiency of God’s everlasting grace, but we experience the sufficiency of God Himself.

 

Thus, it is essential for every believer to die holding onto these two theological truths: the sovereignty of God and the grace of God. And to thrive in life especially in suffering, these are the pillars we must hold tightly to.  So, moments of sorrow or sadness become sweet moments of God’s goodness and grace.

 

(3) God allows suffering for us to rejoice in His power over our weakness. We can be glad for our weaknesses, because they reveal God’s strength. For it is God who does the work through all things in life especially suffering. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

 

Paul now finishes after all that he has said by saying, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses.” He is content, because God has given him a revelation and grace, and now his shortcomings. Paul can rejoice in His weaknesses, because he knows that places of weakness are the place where he has found out how strong God really is.  God’s glory and power shine brightest when we are weak.

 

We do not know when this pandemic is going to end, but let us be able to know and to say God is loving and good in it all.  Let this be our answer to this ongoing suffering to see God powerfully provide in ways like we have never seen before, to know the power of God’s love like never before, and to encounter God’s strength like never before. Let us experience together how truly loving and good God is even in the midst of so much suffering.

 

Thus, you and I can testify, even boast like Paul that God allows us to go through suffering and trials to show us how sufficient, satisfying, and sweet He truly is.

 

Praise Songs: Jesus I My Cross Have Taken, Cornerstone, Doxology