2 Corinthians 4:7-18
Lead Pastor Amistad Cristiana International
2nd Vice-President Georgia Baptist Convention
Hispanic Representative Georgia Baptist Mission Board
We have been discussing for the last few weeks the meaning of suffering and how God uses suffering as a vehicle to work in us, through us, and for us. However, something is clear: during times of suffering and tribulations God still deserves all honor and glory. Thus, our responsibility is to honor Him even in the deepest moments of our despair.
This is exactly what Peter said to the churches he addresses in his letter: “In all this you greatly, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith —of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
This means that our sufferings are many and of different kinds, but the objective of our trials is to refine our faith so that it may be focused not in the present circumstances but on the One who will see us through victoriously. If we learn this valuable lesson, then God receives all honor even during times of suffering. Let’s study 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and find out how we can honor God in our suffering.
We honor God by realizing our human fragilities (vv. 7-12)
Scripture says in Isaiah 57:15: “For this is what the high and exalted One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
This verse has been one of my favorites because it shows us clearly where God lives. God lives in a high place, He is exalted above all, He transcends our worldly dilemmas, oh but listen my friend! He also lives with the brokenhearted, with the weak, with the lonely, with the sinner, with the forgotten. God is moved by our human frailties and He runs towards us even more if we ask for His divine intervention.
A few weeks ago, I preached to my congregation about a man by the name of Bartimaeus. The biblical story recorded in Mark 10:46-52 says that he had two major problems in his life: one was a physical problem and the other was socio-economic. He was blind and he was a beggar. Life was hard for people like him.
He heard that a man by the name of Jesus was going to pass by his neighborhood. He had probably heard great things about this Jesus, about the many miracles, signs, and healings he had done in other regions. So, Bartimaeus made up his mind – he was not going to let this opportunity pass.
Once he heard Jesus was passing by the roadside, he shouted so loud that people began to rebuke him and tried to shut him up. But he kept shouting to the point that Jesus was moved by Bartimaeus’s cry. It was probably a cry of pain, desperation, and anguish, but that is the kind of prayer the Lord will respond.
David said in Psalms 18:6, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”
Dear reader, we have this treasure (God’s power) in jars of clay (our human weaknesses) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (to God is all glory).
We honor God by speaking in faith (vv. 13-15)
I know many of us are aware of strange doctrines running around calling Christians to name and claim things for the sake of their own personal benefits. That, as you and I know, it’s not biblical. Christians must understand that it is God “who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). The truth of the matter is that His divine purposes for our lives will prevail.
However, we must be reminded that we must learn to speak in faith the Word of God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:13 “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak.”
We honor God when speak in faith God’s wonderful promises found in the Bible. We honor God when we memorize Scripture, and in the midst of our dismays, we remind our hearts of His everlasting covenant to us. We honor God when we speak in faith our sermons, our Bible studies, our testimonies with someone who needs Jesus, and when we tell our children of the goodness of the Lord.
David said in Psalm 91:2 “I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” We should open our mouths to sing, to pray, to worship, and to proclaim that He is our God and in God we trust.
Why do we speak in faith? We speak in faith “because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.” (2 Cor. 2:14). This is a powerful statement. If we believe God the Father raised Jesus from the dead, then He can be certain that when we speak in faith the Word of God our faith is anchored not in a dead promise, but on the living promises of a living God.
We honor God by staying strong in our convictions (vv. 16-18)
Paul brings two final admonitions: “Therefore, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 2:16). That is an order. That means “be strong, hold on, don’t be afraid, keep on fighting”. That same admonition is for you my friend. Maybe you are going through a terrible ordeal right now. But God tells you “do not lose heart.” God is in control even though sometimes we do not see it. He is more powerful than any situation you may be going through right now. He knows where you are, He knows where to lead you.
The second admonition is found in v. 18: “Fix your eyes in what is unseen.” That is the problem we all have. We want to see to believe, but Jesus said in John 20:29, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We honor God when we stay true to our faith, to our dependence on God, to our service to Him, and to our relentless convictions.
I want to finish this lesson with the words of a man who honored God by staying strong in his convictions even in the midst of a terrible suffering. His name was Job ,and his words are recorded in Job 19:25-27. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
I have been in ministry for nineteen years and every time I have gone through trials and tribulations either as a family man or as faith leader, I read Job’s words and I also say to myself: “I, Javier Chavez, know that my redeemer lives and in my flesh I will see God.” Can you say that to your yourself today? We can honor Him in the midst of our sufferings. May God bless you.