When Suffering Stays

When Suffering Stays

October 14, 2018 | Lisa Degrenia

Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:6-10

Cindy Cagliuso’s Testimony

As most of you know I work at the Central Florida Pregnancy Center. We accept donations of baby items. About 6 weeks ago a man came by with cases of formula. Of course, we accepted them. He went on medical mission trips to Africa, but the formula would expire before his next trip. After he left, we realized the formula was only for use in feeding tubes. We could not use it. We were disappointed. Ugh. Now to find a place for which to give it. I put the cases in the back room and figured I’d have to call around at some point to find a place to donate them….  

On Friday, October 12th, a caseworker called from Jacksonville. One of her clients had quickly moved to escape the hurricane and left with barely enough formula for her child for one day. They were living 2 towns over. She said the family had no money. Did we have any formula to give her - she needed feeding tube formula. WHAT???!!!! We were about to close for the night, but couldn’t imagine making the woman wait until Monday. 5 phone calls later and the very young woman came by and walked out with 8 cases of feeding tube formula for her child. I kept trying to tell both her and the caseworker “You don’t understand! We are not medical! We don’t carry this stuff - we took it in by mistake! This is God! God did this!” I told the executive director and she said: “I thought you got rid of that stuff.” I said “No! Why did we have this? Why did we take it?” - and she said, “Because God knew you would need it.”

Home from work late on a Friday after a long week. All of us had smiles on our faces. God is so good. God has provided for me personally in amazing ways this week. God loves us all. Those who know Him and those who don’t. Praise God!

It’s easy for us to think this is what life should be like all the time for the faithful. Everything working out for the best in powerful and miraculous ways. But life isn't like that. When it isn't, it’s easy for us to begin to question -  Is there something wrong with me? Am I doing something wrong? Is God fickle?

Video: When God Doesn’t Make Sense from Explore God

Sometimes it's easy to identify the why of our suffering. We’re experiencing the consequence of our own choices or we get caught in the backwash of someone else’s choice. Sometimes we don't know why. It’s just the brokenness of this world.   

Resilience

Resilience as bouncing back from adversity, like a rubber ball 

  • Easy for us to connect resilience with Restoration of what was lost
    • I lost my home in the hurricane, but I just have to hang in there till it’s rebuilt
    • 3 major Florida storms in 3 years:
      • Matthew (2016 to the Atlantic coast)
      • Irma (2017 to the southern Gulf Coast)
      • Michael (2018 to the panhandle)
  • Easy for us to connect resilience with Recovery like from an ailment       
    • I broke my leg and just have to soldier on until it’s better

 What if the house doesn’t get rebuilt? What if the leg doesn’t get better? (Like a rubber ball with no air) What if the suffering stays? What does that say about me and my faith, what does it say about God?

What if resilience isn’t so much about bouncing back, it’s about moving forward in the midst of adversity (Like tossing the ball. It works even if there's no air in it. )

This is the resilience we the Apostle Paul talking about in 2 Corinthians 12:6-10.

  • Paul wrote most of the New Testament
  • Nurtured churches from Turkey in Asia Minor all the way to Italy on the other side of the Mediterranean
  • Had a face to face encounter with the Risen Christ
  • Experienced divine revelations of the mysteries of heaven
  • Paul had reason to boast, but he didn’t. He had every reason to experience the favor and blessing of God in a life without adversity, but he didn't. 

2 Corinthians 12:6, The Voice

6 So if I want to boast, I won’t do so as a fool because I will be speaking the truth. But I will stop there, since I don’t want to be credited with anything except exactly what people see and hear from me.

Paul only wanted people to see what he did in Jesus' strength and hear his testimony of who Jesus is.            

2 Corinthians 12:7-8, The Voice

7 To keep me grounded and stop me from becoming too high and mighty due to the extraordinary character of these revelations, I was given a thorn in the flesh—a nagging nuisance of Satan, a messenger to plague me! 8 I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish;

Paul was a man of extraordinary faith, courage, and fruitful service to Christ. Yet he had a “Thorn in the flesh." Some think it may have been an eye problem, limp, bad temper, or even mean-spirited person constantly criticizing him. He describes it as anguish, a nagging nuisance. He also knew his thorn was not from God. 

Paul prayed, no begged, three times for God to deliver him. Just like Jesus praying three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before the crucifixion. The answer for Paul and Jesus was the same - The suffering is staying. But...

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, The Voice 

9 and finally God said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. 10 I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.

God’s grace is sufficient! God’s power is made perfect in our weakness!            

Paul came to see God doing good in the midst of the thorn         

  • It kept Paul humble and close to God
  • It made for an even greater testimony because people could easily see Paul couldn’t do it in his own strength
  • The affliction didn’t leave but Paul became resilient in Christ.

God’s grace is sufficient! God’s power is made perfect in our weakness!

Paul continues to move forward in the midst of adversity (2 Corinthians 11)

  • 5 times flogged, 39 lashes each                                 
  • Beaten with rods            
  • tried to stone him to death
  • Shipwrecked- over 24 hours in the water             
  • Robbed                                                                               
  • Hunger and thirst                                                            
  • Cold and nakedness
  • Constant persecution and debating from those who oppose Jesus     
  • Care of all the church    

Does Paul or Jesus wait till everything’s right before continuing their mission? No!

Does anyone doubt Paul’s faith or Jesus's faith because they experience suffering? No!                       

Does anyone doubt God is at work in powerful ways in Paul’s life or Jesus' life because they experienced opposition? No!

No one doubts you either!         

God’s grace is sufficient! God’s power is made perfect in our weakness!

Lay aside the excuse of "I've got to get my act together first" and move forward with Christ 

  • Say yes to placing your trust in Jesus
  • Say yes to a commitment to Christ
  • Say yes to baptism
  • Say yes to joining that small group
  • Say yes to stepping out with Christ to serve   
  • Say yes to sharing your need with others                 

2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NRSV         

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed

In Christ we are resilient!

Series Information

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” In Christ we are resilient!

Other sermons in the series

October 21, 2018

The Path to Hope

The Path to Hope- Suffering, Endurance, Character, Hope