Summary: 2 Corinthians 1:1-7
SCARS - How Can I Use My Scars for Ministry?
March 24, 2019
2 Corinthians 1:1-7 (p. 803)
I spent about 3 months in the burn unit at St. Joseph Hospital when I was 11 years old. I suffered 3rd degree burns on about 50% of my body after knocking an alcohol lamp over on myself…I remember the salt water baths to keep me from becoming infected. I remember changing the dressings. I remember the skin graft surgery. I remember not looking in the mirror very often.
I also remember people praying for me and coming by to see me and my family. Some of them would end the conversation…“Hang in there I know how you feel.”
As I look back as an adult, I understand they meant no harm…they were just trying to be kind and relate…but at that time I remember thinking…“You have no idea how I feel!”
It used to help me when Dad would show me his wooden leg and the battle scars on the other one and say, “I know what its like to hurt…I know what its like for people to stare at me when I limp.”
But the one incident I remember during those 3 months was when Mr. Bryant came by to see me…He had 4 boys…John was about a year older than me…Mr Bryant told me about being burned at Pearl Harbor, as badly as I’d been burned…He showed me his scars…which had faded dramatically over 21 years…He gave me a letter he’d written to his wife Dorothy…In this letter he told her to find someone else…he was too scarred. She didn’t. After his visit he said, “God had a plan for my scars…and God’s got a plan for yours.” And then he said, “I know how you feel and what you’re going through. Call me anytime.” And I felt something click in my heart…a kindred soul…someone who didn’t just know what I was going through, but had been victorious over it.
Paul writes as an Apostle of Jesus to the Church at Corinth…an Apostle is someone sent with the authority of the One who sent him.
Paul believes he carries the authority of Christ…a powerful salvation message in the Gospel…he has Timothy with him as he writes this letter…the 2nd one to this Church in Corinth and Achaia. He introduces this letter with the prayer of grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus…and then he says.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-7 (p. 803)
I believe with every fiber of my soul that Paul is approaching the Corinthians just like Mr. Bryant approached me…He is walking into a spiritual burn unit with the power of God and a ministry of scars.
Sharing this powerful truth:
I. GOD HAS BEEN MY COMFORTER IN ALL MY TROUBLES
Paul starts with praising God…“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…He comforts us in all our troubles.”
Thats an amazing statement from someone who would write just 5 verses later:
“We do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Cor. 1:8)
Paul doesn’t get specific about what they weren’t through here…but if you consider he’d been stoned, beaten, snake bit and shipwrecked we get an idea of how bad it must havebeen…Basically he’s saying…“We were stressed beyond despair…we knew we were going to die.”
Anyone who tells you God won’t put more on you than you can bear is a liar…but He won’t put more on you than He can handle…in fact that might be exactly why He allows it…So, as Paul says in verse 9 “We know this happened so we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again…on Him we have set our hope.”
Noah built a big boat for 120 years with no converts other than his family…Abraham walked up a mountain to sacrifice the son he’d waited his whole life for…David picked up 5 rocks and a slingshot and ran toward Goliath…The Apostle Paul sent where God called him even though he was beaten, stoned and put in jail.
Our faith in god doesn’t grow when it’s not tested…our faith grows when God comforts us in our troubles and proves His power in our weakness.
There is no pain without purpose in the plan of God.
And one of the main purposes is to make us effective ministers to others.
“We are comforted by a compassionate Father so we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.