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When Heaven is Silent

posted Aug 15, 2010, 1:32 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jan 9, 2014, 5:25 PM ]

August 8, 2010

Key Passage: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 

“When Heaven is Silent” 

“…they are weak, but he is strong.”  Funny how many of us have sung that last line from “Jesus Loves Me” since we were kids and yet as adults we’ve yet to understand, much less embrace, its true meaning.  Frankly, one of the most dizzying and revelatory passages in Scripture for me is when Jesus turns to Peter and says, and I paraphrase, “Hey, Buddy…Satan has asked my Dad to sift you…will be praying for you.”  Peter must’ve thought he would get an “I’ll take care of it;” maybe a “don’t worry, I’d never let anything like that happen,” or some variation.  Instead, he gets “I’ll be praying for ya.”  Wow.  In a culture that primarily strives to eliminate pain and suffering, the Gospel tells us that Christ is magnified through our struggles.  God’s glory shines more brightly when he satisfies us in times of loss than when he provides for us in times of plenty.  In a world bent on the pursuit of happiness and stuff, and frankly, an aversion to pain of any sort, learning to mature in Christ is largely a matter of how we handle suffering.  Someone who bears suffering with patience, submission, thankfulness (?!?), and hope not only assures themselves of being blessed but more importantly, points others to the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 Answers the age old question: Why does God allow suffering?!  

  • It reveals our true spiritual condition / character and forces us to come to terms with it (see also Luke 22:31-34) 
  • To humble us … remember, in God’s eyes you are either humble or will be humbled.  God won’t do anything with anyone until they’ve humbled themselves (see 2 Cor. 12:7) 
  • To draw us to Him … and Him only … and not some earthly alternative.  In verse 8, Paul pleaded with the Lord – he didn’t flip on TBN, hit the pamphlet section of Life Way or make an appointment with a therapist (see 2 Cor. 12:8) 
  • To display His grace … ‘nuff said (see 2 Cor. 12:9) 
  • To perfect His power.  God’s power is made manifest in our weakness.  Notice Jesus says, “My power is made perfect.”  Not better, or it reaches new heights, or it’s “new and improved.”  No, it’s made PERFECT! 

Q:  How is “rejoicing” in suffering different from “enduring” suffering? 

Q:  What effect has past suffering had on your relationship/commitment to God? 

Q:  Currently, what form does your suffering for Christ take?   

Bottom Line: Regarding suffering, it’s important to note that everything is either caused by God or allowed by God, and there is no third category.  The deepest need that you and I have in weakness and suffering is not quick relief, but the well-grounded confidence that what is happening to us is part of the greatest purpose of God in the universe – the glorification of the grace and power of his Son.  Randy Alcorn once said, “Through suffering we become powerless so that we might reach the powerless.  Our suffering makes Jesus visible to the world.  Suffering creates a sphere of influence for Christ that we couldn’t otherwise have.”  The paradox really is, when we’re weak, he is strong.