Summary: An important thing for us to think about is how do we cope with suffering?
The Unique Afflictions of God’s People
Text: 2 Cor. 1:6-11
Intro: "When Samuel Rutherford
[ 17th Century Scottish Presbyterian theologian and author ]
found himself in the cellar of
adversity, as he often did , he began to look around for
some of the Lord’s ’best wines.’ Perhaps he learned to
do this from the example of Paul, for the apostle always
sought to trace the rainbow through his tears."
__William MacDonald, 2 Corinthians, p.12 , Emmaus
Correspondence School, 1976, ISBN # 0-940-293-49-8
Theme: An important thing for us to think about
is how do we cope with suffering?
I. GOD’S CHILDREN DO FALL INTO GREAT EXTREMITIES--
( The highest degrees of inconvenience, pain, or suffering;
greatest needs or perils; extreme needs; necessities. )
A. To try what mettle we are made of.
1. Light afflictions will not try us thoroughly, great ones will.
2. What we are in great afflictions, we are indeed.
B. To try the sincerity of our condition of life (estate)
1. to make us known to the world and known to ourselves
2. A man does not know what a deal of looseness he has in
his heart, and what a deal of falseness, till he comes to extremity.
C. To set an edge upon our desires and our prayers (Psalm 130:1).
D. To exercise our faith and patience.
E. To perfect the work of dying out to the things of the world.
F. To prepare us for greater blessings.
1. Crosses/afflictions do breed humility.
2. Humility empties the soul.
3. The emptiness of the soul fits it for receiving.
a. Why does the farmer rend his ground with the plow?
b. Is it because he is angry at the ground?
c. No. He plans to sow good seed there.
d. He will not plow a minute longer than may
serve to prepare the ground
e. Isaiah 28:24-26, Doth the plowman plow all day to sow?
doth he open and break the clods of his ground?
When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth
he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin,
and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley
and the rie in their place? For his God doth instruct him
to discretion, and doth teach him.
f. So likewise the goldsmith--
1) He tempers the best metal that he has.
2) He labors to consume the dross of it.
3. The longer it is in the fire the purer it comes forth.
G. That we might appreciate comforts when they come.
H. Learn, then —
1. Not to pass a harsh, rigid censure upon ourselves or others for any
great affliction or abasement in this world.
2. Not to build unrealistic confidence in earthly things.
II. TO INCREASE AWARENESS OF THE NEED TO
DEPEND ON THE LORD.
A. We are flesh and not steel (Job 6:12).
B. We are men and not stones.
C. We are Christians and not Stoics
(Those seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain).
III. WE MAY TRIUMPH OVER DEATH BY FAITH AND GRACE.
A. That we may not excessively fear death.
B. Let us look upon it [death] in the glass of the gospel as it
is now in Christ.
___Adapted from the works of R. Sibbes, D. D.
Concl: What is God’s purpose in our suffering?
God’s purpose is always: Look to Him.
Trust Him. Lean on Him. He says,
"I will help you. I will be merciful. I will give grace.
I will help you to endure and keep going.”