The Suffering Saint - Part 2
Last week, we introduced a short study on the suffering of a saint. We discussed that we will encounter various trials on our way to the promised land, the new heavens and the new earth. How are we to navigate into, through, and out of all these trials we will walk through, what can we depend on for our confidence to see us through them, and Who is going to make sure with 100% confidence that we do finish the course despite many things being hurled into our way. Our text to look at was 2 Cor. 5:3-11, where in verse 3, we see Paul exalt God in his words,"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." 2 Cor. 11:23-31 shows one reason Paul is confident in his exalting the Father as he finishes this second letter to the Corinthians. Few have gone through what he has, but the Lord saw to it that His grace would be sufficient to see Paul through it. I doubt very much that any one could refer to someone as merciful and comforting unless he himself has experienced it .
Paul has so much confidence in the Lord that he will go anywhere and do anything for Him, his love for his Savior is second to none. Nothing will separate him from his service to his Master short of dying for Him. In Phil.1:21, Paul proclaims, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." I am sure that Paul was a praying man. How many exhortations does he give us to pray, he knows how to do that. Before he even comes on the scene as the apostle we know he is, in Acts 9:11, before Ananias is sent to him, the Lord says to Ananias,"a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying." He has endured much persecution for preaching Christ crucified, remember he determined to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified. So he is so confident, in verses 12 through 19 in Phil.1, "that he knows that this (persecution) will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Remember, he pleaded with God three times in 2 Cor. 12:8, "that he implored the Lord three times that it(the thorn in the flesh) might leave him."
English Puritan John Flavel says, "Your best posture to wrestle with these afflictions is upon your knees. Though He gives these various trials to mature you, yet you are still in His hand to preserve you, Deut. 33:3, John 10:28. And while you are crying out to Him on earth, Christ is interceding for you in heaven." Remember, "He is a God that is patient toward you, not wishing that any to perish, but for all to come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9). Oh, what affliction would there be for us to endure, had He not been patient with us, or we dare not think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience not knowing the kindness of God leads us to repentance” (Rom.2:4). For we would land up as Rev.14:11, "that the smoke of their (unbelievers’) torments goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest day or night." And in Lam. 3:32-33, "For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion, according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men."
The apostle Paul writes as a man who knew trouble, to those who were in trouble. The Father of mercies is indeed just that, a God of all comfort. Justice is His strange work, mercy His willing work. It is His willing inclination to relieve the miseries of His fallen creatures. John Flavel says, "Healing comes to the Christian sufferer from the knowledge that affliction ultimately will cease, in duration and operation. Look forward to the end of your troubles , yea, look to a double end of them, their duration and operation.” He quotes 2 Cor. 4:17, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Affliction as a spoon of water, will surely come to an end in the sea of eternity: these afflictions are but temporal, but Christ and His benefits are eternal." Keep fixing your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of your faith. "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry” (Psalm 34:15). More to come next week!
Elder Randy Slak