This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to God’s church in Corinth and to all of his holy people throughout Greece. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. (2 Corinthians 1:1-2, NLT)
For centuries, Christian people have looked to the Bible for comfort and strength in the midst of adversity and suffering. Because we are human our initial reaction is to seek relief, resolution and reconciliation from our pain. There are times that God does provide an “off ramp” that delivers us from the rugged terrain, but life experience reminds us that more often than not that God walks with us through the valleys. We learn to navigate our pain and suffering through the tensions and paradoxes in the way Jesus modeled for us. This is the purpose of the letter we know as Second Corinthians.
Second Corinthians has become one of my favorite New Testament letters because Paul calls out the paradoxes of the Christian life and allows his readers to struggle with the tensions and the mysteries we face in the midst of our struggles. He does this by identifying his own adversity and suffering and pointing his readers to look to the model and example of Jesus. Through this letter we’ll see some of the following paradoxes:
- Comfort in the midst of Affliction
- Joy in the midst of Sorrow
- Strength in the midst of Weakness
- Humiliation in the midst of Exaltation
- Hope in the midst of Resignation
- Life in the midst of Death
- Generosity in the midst of Poverty
- Christian Community in the midst of Modern Culture
This letter is not for those who are looking for four keys or three principles to escape from their suffering. Rather, it is a letter for those who seek to navigate their current experience of life, knowing full well that the only ultimate deliverance may come in heaven. I’m looking forward to this, and pray that you find it beneficial.