Suffering and the Christian

Suffering and the Christian December 15, 2020


Reflection on 2 Cor.  12.7-10 where Paul asks God two remove his thorn in the flesh, and God says no, my power is made perfect in your weakness, my grace is sufficient for you, Peter Gomes in the ‘Good Book’ says this… “We learn first that the thorn is sent to Paul in the form of a messenger from Satan. The source of his trouble, whatever it is, is not God. The moral of the affliction, however is that he should not boast or brag– the affliction is an exercise in humility, the purpose of which is to give glory not to Paul but to Christ.  This is not suffering for suffering’s sake; it is suffering for Christ’s sake so that Paul and all who see and learn from him might learn the strength that Christ supplies. We learn as well that God’s role is not to relief suffering or to spare us from it, but enable us to bear and endure it so that even our suffering is redemptive for ourselves and others.  Thus, God will not interfere despite the three appeals of the apostle. Why not? So that Paul will learn that he can rely upon Christ when he needs him, that is, in his weakness. The sufferings, the persecutions, the calamities, the insults and hardships, all of these are not ends in themselves  but means to a greater end, the demonstration that Christ gets us through such things. The only way out of suffering is through it and only Christ can get is through. Knowing this, Paul is now able to demonstrate this as an act of faith, not in the redemptive power of suffering, but in the redemptive powers of the redeemer to help him through his weakness. ‘For when I am weak then I am strong.’ In other words, when I can no longer rely upon myself to solve the problem or to overcome the weakness, when I acknowledge that in my weakness I cannot ‘go it alone’, then I am strengthened and empowered by the one who gives me strength. To be strong in this sense is to acknowledge the fact of my weakness and the source of my strength.”– Gomes ‘The Good Book’ pp.218-19.

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