Since we seem to be going with the theme of suffering and sovereignty lately, I thought I'd continue the pattern. With the hardship the Calabellos are going through and our discussion on suffering at Home Group, I think it's fitting.
I want to share a few of my notes on a sermon that I listened to recently by Brent Detwiler. The sermon was titled "Paul's Thorn" and was on II Corinthians 12:7-10, the well-known passage on Paul's "thorn...in the flesh." (I thought it was stellar.) These notes aren't organized by any means; they are just some great statements Brent made throughout the sermon that I jotted down. (The message was so chock full of these statements that I could hardly keep up!) Here they are, simple, yet amazing:
- God loves our character more than our comfort.
- God knows how much affliction we need for our good.
- The Lord promises to sustain us through the affliction he allows.
- If God left us without hardship, we'd be tempted not to pray; anything that drives us to our knees in prayer is a blessing that we should thank God for.
- If we had our way, we would choose an easy and thornless life; that's because we are foolish. God is wise, therefore, he gives us hardship.
- Thorns strip us of our self-sufficiency.
- We are afflicted by the Lord that we might encounter the Lord more intimately.
When Brent closed he read a short poem by John Piper on God's sustaining grace. There's something about beautiful language and rhyme, which is showcased in this poem, that makes God's truth all the more moving and comforting:
Our sovereign Father gives us:
"Not grace to bar what is not bliss,
Nor flight from all distress, but this:
The grace that orders our trouble and pain,
And then, in the darkness, is there to sustain."
Yes, Lord, you are so gracious to order just the right affliction to make us more like Christ!