Becoming a disciple: Seeing the bigger picture

Scripture – 2 Corinthians 7:4

In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

Observation

This sounds weird. Overflowing with joy in the midst of affliction.

What were the afflictions? “afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)

What was the cause of joy? “I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting.” (2 Corinthians 7:9) and “I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you.” (2 Corinthians 7:16)

Paul willingly suffered many afflictions because of the bigger picture of the Kingdom of God. Seeing and hearing about people turning away from their old lives and towards God through the saving grace paid for by Jesus’ death and raising from the dead. Paul saw the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, all the bad stuff that happened to him (for a longer list see 2 Corinthians 11) was nothing compared to the joy of seeing people trust in Jesus and begin to grow as his disciples.

Application

In what ways have I been more concerned with avoiding suffering and affliction than with the bigger picture of the mission of Jesus?

It was hearing about the faith of the Corinthians that brought Paul joy. In his days, communication was letters or stories reported by messengers. Today we have instant, global, multimedia ways to communicate with each other. Are we taking advantage of them?

Prayer

Dad, thank you for the privilege of being a part of your family and your Kingdom. Show me the bigger picture of what you are doing around the world so that my faith may be strengthened and that my joy may be deepened. Help me not to look at hardships through a worldly lens but rather with excitement because of those coming to know you. Give me greater understanding of how you are moving across the globe and in my city. Help me share stories of your Kingdom in every way I can, in order that those people I serve would have great joy even in the middle of hard times. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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