As usual, there are many things we can learn from Paul’s teachings. 2 Corinthians 1 and 2 provide snapshots of several things we can hold on to, but I want to focus on two main themes that stand out—suffering and forgiveness.
Often, we dwell on our sufferings by living in the pain of the moment, without realizing God is sustaining us through those difficulties. Well-intentioned as they may be, our words can offer hope in the midst of suffering as we misquote God with phrases like, “God won’t give us more than we can handle.” That phrase is not only a false teaching, but it puts the focus on us, as if we are the ones who will get us through. But we are not. God is the one who sustains us. God is in control and is with us amid the ups and downs of life.
In chapter 1, Paul paints a word picture of suffering as being something that will bring glory to God by helping others through their suffering. It’s paying it forward, allowing God to move in our pain and use it for good in our life, in the lives of others, and ultimately for His glory. There is always purpose for our pain, even if we don’t see it this side of heaven.
Paul’s word picture in chapter 2 portrays radical forgiveness. This forgiveness is geared toward ones who speak or act against us. Forgiving people who have wronged us is no easy task. Paul warns us not to be outwitted by Satan, saying we are ignorant of his design, meaning that harboring emotions of unforgiveness will only allow Satan to work in that situation. Forgiveness may not be easy, but it is commanded of us, and is a sign of our faith (Matthew 6:14-15).
Whether we’re in times of suffering, peace, or needing to forgive, Jesus is with us. He’s working in us and through His power, we can live out this faith journey we’re called to. And in the end, it’s all for His glory!