In this episode, Rick is offering you a segment of the training that he provides in his Introduction to Biblical Counseling class (chapter 8). This specific class is about a theology of suffering, as he teaches his students about the essentialness of suffering well in God’s world in order to live well in God’s world.
This segment is from the longer class, as walks you through what he calls the three hilltops on personal suffering that is found in 2 Corinthians. Here are the three hilltop passages:
- 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 – The LORD purposely burdened Paul beyond his ability to fix the problem.
- 2 Corinthians 4:7 – The LORD did this to make it obvious where power comes from.
- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Paul gives a personal illustration of these suffering truths.
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The LORD wants you beyond your ability
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.
Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. – 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV)
Water walking is beyond your ability
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:28-33 (ESV)
The LORD wants you weak
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus ‘sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (ESV)
The LORD wants you perfected through weakness
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)