The Answers That Don’t Satisfy

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    Guidance for the Week 2 Devotional

    While the message focused mainly on the alternative answers that do not satisfy, it is time to begin looking at the answer that does satisfy. It is much better to say it is time to start looking at the Person who does satisfy, and that is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While evil, sin, pain, and suffering are real; and while the Bible treats them with great integrity and wisdom; and therefore, why the Bible is critically realistic about how difficult life can be, that is not the final word or even the primary word. The primary word is that of Good News. God is. God is love. God is strong. God saves. God is full of grace and mercy. And therefore, you can live with faith, hope, love, peace, and joy. The Apostle Paul tells his own story of suffering and describes his own practices, his own faith, and his own encounters with God in 2 Corinthians. When I was in one of my dark seasons of doubt and struggle with God, 2 Corinthians became one of my treasured parts of Scripture. Over and over I meditated on the words of Paul. I used his words for my prayers. I looked for insights I could claim and for practices I could borrow. And I found them. You will find them also. It is time to begin constructing a better belief and a fuller faith. But that is work you must do personally. We will lead you to the living water this week, but you must drink. You must taste and see. Every day there will be a selection from 2 Corinthians and a second selection from the Psalms. You may want to read both of them at the same time. You may want to read one in the morning and one in the evening. As you do, pray, study, think, reflect, discern, discover, ask questions, and worship. In each passage, ask what are the real insights and best practices revealed? Take these insights and practices for your own.  

    DAY 1: THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT

    2 CORINTHIANS 1:3–11 & PSALM 6 Be sure to notice how God is described and experienced. Notice what God does for the apostle and the psalmist. See the strong sense of hope in this passage. And notice how the psalmist prays and believes. What are the three or four real insights and best practices?

    DAY 2: GOD’S ALL-SURPASSING POWER

    2 CORINTHIANS 4:6–12, 16–18 & PSALM 13 Oh, do I love these words from Paul. This is the mystery, but this is our faith. Yes, life is hard and even very hard, but God is stronger, much stronger, much greater. And therefore, we are not destroyed. Nor do we lose heart. Read these thrilling words. What are the three or four real insights and best practices? What words and phrases will you use from Paul and the psalm to form your own prayer?  

    DAY3: A NEW CREATION NOW & MORE TO COME

    2 CORINTHIANS 5:1–10, 17–18 & PSALM 32 In this passage, Paul helps us understand a core belief of the Christian faith. There is a better life to come—eternity, heaven, glory, perfection. It is what we long for. It is the promise of God. One day we will have it fully. And even that hope gives us strength as we “groan” here on earth. For we groan as new creations in Christ. The best is yet to come! The hope of heaven is a strong hope. Heaven is not an escape from today; it is an anchor for today. As the great mystic Julian of Norwich said, “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” That is our hope, now and forever. What are the three or four real insights and best practices? What words from the psalm can you use for your own prayer?

    DAY4: BOTH SUFFERING & SUSTENANCE

    2 CORINTHIANS 6:1–13 & PSALM 77 Today’s devotion focuses more on how God wants to use everything that happens in you and to you as a source of real help for others around you. That was always Paul’s mission, purpose, and passion. All things work together for the good—the good of Paul and the good of the Corinthians (and us). Do you know one of the most powerful things you can do when you are suffering is to look to help someone else? Try it and you will see what happens. Jot down more best practices, insights, and prayers.  

    DAY 5: GRACE IS ALWAYS SUFFICIENT

    2 CORINTHIANS 11:23–30, 5–10 & PSALM 143 Before doing this final devotion, look over the insights, practices, and prayers from previous days. Now, see how much Paul has suffered but, above all, see the most powerful lesson he learned about God’s grace and power. Have you learned those lessons? Be sure to see how much the psalmist knows, loves, and trusts God.
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