Summary: We don't have to look far to see that suffering exists. Truth is, that tragedy enters into each of our lives. When it does we tend to ask: "Why did this happen to me?" But we should really be asking a different question.
What Good Can Come of This? - 2 Corinthians 1:3-11
Care Home and Hospital Service – February 2012
Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-11
Those words were written nearly 2000 years ago by a man named Paul. Paul was what we call an apostle and he was a man that God used to do great things during the years following Jesus’ death and resurrection. He was a man whom God worked through in a mighty way. But Paul was also a man who understood what it meant to suffer and to be in need. And we could hear that in his words. He talked a lot about suffering, and a lot about being comforted, during those times of suffering.
And he writes as one who knows those things firsthand. We just catch glimpse into his life as we read God’s word but we know that Paul knew hard times. At times he suffered from hunger and thirst, at others from the beatings and stonings and floggings he had received. At least once he had been battered and bruised and left for dead outside the city walls. He faced angry crowds and survived shipwrecks. He was imprisoned and chained. He had been abandoned by friends and despaired even of life at times. Paul is a man who understood what suffering means. But he’s also a man who never lost his hope in God despite all the things he endured.
Today we don’t have to look far to see that suffering still exists. There are earthquakes and floods, avalanches and accidents, wars and famines, homelessness and unemployment. There are sicknesses and diseases, shattered dreams and hopelessness. People are hurting. People are suffering. People are grieving. And maybe today you are one of them. One of those who is hurting, or grieving or despairing; suffering in some way. If that is you today, I want you to know that you are not alone. Suffering comes in different forms, to different people, but it comes to everyone of us at one time or another – often when it’s least expected.
Your pain, your trial, your suffering, is different than mine, just as mine is different from yours. And I can only speak to you from my own experience with trials. And if I were to share one with you it would be one that came upon me unexpectedly many years ago. It was a time in my life when I faced an uncertain future and when the doctors had no answers for me.
It had started with numbness, and then tremors and weakness, in my hands and feet and legs. Over a period of months it went from merely irritating to debilitating and was affecting my ability to do my job and to take care of my family. It got to the point that on some days I couldn’t hold my hand steady enough to even write my name. Then other parts of my body began to be effected. I had always had great eyesight but during this same time period I began to have troubles with my vision – so much so that I struggled to read anything smaller than those big neon “Exit” signs you see over doorways. One night I woke up out of a sound sleep to discover that I could not see anything out of one of my eyes.