Summary: Does grace cause you to endure?
Grace is the greatest gift…in a world of greatest pain…What is the thing in your life that has hurt you the most? For some it’s a relationship (spouse or parents)…for others it was a sickness…some it was financial…and for many it was an emotional breakdown (depression)…Whatever you answer with…I bet that question has raised some emotion…Pain leaves a mark on us, suffering changes us, weakness affects us. What interaction does grace have with suffering? If God is so gracious…why is there so much pain?
That was one of the questions asked by Christians in the Bible…
Background: Corinth was known for its temple prostitutes, its expensive and luxurious lifestyle, its impressive architecture, and its elite socialites. It was the place to go for pleasure, exotic living, and extravagant buildings. The “Corinthian Style” of architecture is characterized by massive columns with amazing detail that were constructed to specifically portray power and prestige. The Corinthians loved strength and power.
Every society of that day used successes and strengths to prove their point and exert influence (Jewish, Roman and Greek cultures all the same…in fact in every society)…Like the people of Corinth, we live in a culture that puts a lot of value on our own strength, abilities, and accomplishments…2 Corinthians – Struggling people…
Ministry is filled with suffering both personally and positionally…if you are going to be serving God in ministry…you will face intense suffering personally and practically.
Read- 2 Corinthians 11:22-30
…8 significant sources of danger (word danger repeated)
Emotional weakness (vs. 28) – what mom can’t relate to this…what dad can’t relate to this
Then he asks 2 rhetorical questions…lean in and listen to these questions.
Who is weak? Who is led into sin? (verse 29)…If you feel weak…me too….If you are tempted to sin…so do I…
1. GRACE DOESN'T EXEMPT US FROM SUFFERING
You might not know Christ…you don’t have to be a Christian to ask these same questions…atheist, Buddhist, or Muslim…or agnostic…everyone experiences difficult times…people you love will die, miscarriage or infertility, prescription pill addition, closet problem with porn, lose your job, children rebel, physically sick, marriage difficulties, cancer, one visit to the doctor can change your life…different reality.
From a logical point of view, it would seem that God would reward those who do good with less pain. Certainly it would seem that God would give those in Christian ministry a free pass from pain. After all, missionaries, church planters and pastors work for God! Wouldn’t it be a good idea, when it would be in your power, to take special care of those who work for you?
But…Paul didn’t get a pass from pain
Verse 30 – Boast in weakness…crazy…doesn’t make sense
Let me help you find hope in your hurt…
PURPOSE IN PAIN
We see God’s grace in this revelation…some believe this was during his calling from Jerusalem to Antioch…we don’t know for sure…
1st Heaven=Earth’s atmosphere. 2nd Heaven= Outer Space. 3rd Heaven = Gods Throne.
- Paradise…Paradeseo– of Persian origin, it meant a walled enclosure (a royal enclosed park).
“When a Persian king wished to confer a very special honor on someone specially dear to him, he made him a companion of the garden & gave him the right to walk in the royal gardens w/him in intimate companionship.” - Both the Hebrew & Greek borrowed this word…idea of walking where God dwells.
Paul has this grace-filled moment with God…So to keep from conceit and pride…
And now, there was a “thorn in the flesh.”
First of all, what is this thorn in the flesh? The Greek word is scolops (sp?). What is it? What is the thorn? Well, it’s a stake, and it was the kind of stake upon which people were impaled. It was a horrendous way to die.
4 things about the thorn
- Painful – sharpen stake
How bad was this particular pain? It was straight-from-hell bad, if you read the passage closely enough. It was a “messenger from Satan,” sent to torment him.
- Torment – beat with fists…
- Physical…in the flesh…it was meant to keep him from being conceited…
We don’t really know exactly what this thorn was:
- Calvin thought spiritual temptations.
- Luther temptations & persecutions.
- Roman Catholics say sexual temptations.
- Some say disfigurement (like hunchback, epilepsy, malarial fevers, or severe headaches).
- Others speculate a speech impediment.
- And others Ophthalmia (inflammation of the eye) from Gal.6:11 See with what large letters I have written
- It was not what the thorn was that mattered, but what it did!
Suffering can look many different ways…Read - 12:10
- Insults (relationships) – arrogant insults…words…offenses
- Hardships (Difficulties) – maybe it is infirmities and sickness…medical history
- Persecutions (wounds, scars) that you have suffered at the hands of others…