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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Leaning on the Word of God in Challenging Times- Part 10

Usually, when we suffer our faith is tested at the same time.  We suffer, and we ask God "why?". We may feel like he isn't listening, or that he doesn't care. I hope our past studies have helped you if you struggle, and are losing your grip on the Word and salvation.  

Suffering can refine our faith and cause us to cry out: "I know that my redeemer lives!" (Job 19) May the Holy Spirit align your sufferings with the sufferings of Christ, so that you may become more like him.  

God has not forgotten and he has promised to end your sufferings, and bring you into the joy of heaven.  For now we can be like Paul in 2 Corinthians 11 and 12, and boast in our troubles! 

1) Read 2 Corinthians 21b-29 

Why is Paul listing all of his sufferings? If you made a list, how would it compare? 

Paul does not want to show off how tough he is, but to show that if a Christian has to boast it should not be in their strengths and accomplishments. A Christian should boast in suffering to show that in our sufferings God has identified with us. Then others will know that there is no kind of suffering that God will not understand, or there is no trouble so low that we cannot find God.  

Look at John 19:3; 19:23; and 19:28 and compare these verses with Paul's list of hardships. Do you see any similarities? 

2) Read 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 

Paul recieved a thorn in his flesh (how nice!). What was this thorn? Do you have any thorns? 
The thorn might have been a physical disability or a speech impediment or some other handicap. A thorn in the flesh might mean some kind of physical suffering, or a weak area where Paul was constantly tempted.  Most of us have a thorn(s) like this. 

Where is the gospel in this passage? 

We find it when we read that God's grace is sufficient for Paul. It is sufficient for you too! God shows his strength in our weakness. He gives his grace and strength to the pain racked- decaying body. He gives it to the handicapped, and the despised people of the world. The death and resurrection of his humble Son is more than enough to sustain us for now, and in the end it will restore and heal us on the Last Day. 

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