This week our offices at the church building are under construction and we are working in whatever nook and cranny we can find. I have found my home at the Stephen A. Schwarzman building of the New York Public Library. This is finals week for seminary and I have been hard at work on two papers. Working in that stunning library has been overwhelming. Did you know there are 75 miles of bookshelves there? Unbelievable.
One of my papers is an exegetical study. I am researching II Corinthians 4: 7-18. I thought I would use my blog entry this week to bring you into my seminary world for a moment. Here is an excerpt from my paper:
Rather than viewing pain as a tool of God to bless our current situations, Paul has the long view: Suffering afflicts the people of God, but the evil of suffering and oppression “does not overturn the purposes of God in an age that is characterized by pain and injustice”. Rather “under his loving hand every evil thing works together for the good—that is, the end-time good— of those who love him” (Barnett, 252-253). The problem with applying Paul’s concept of suffering directly to our lives is that he does not appear to be discussing tornadoes, war, or disease or any other random catastrophe that can befall us. His scope in II Corinthians is limited purely to the suffering that has afflicted him because of his alignment with Jesus Christ. This is an important distinction to make as we all seek to find meaning in our afflictions. The Corinthians were questioning whether Paul should be above affliction and persecution. But if he had been killed in a mudslide, they would probably not be wringing their hands asking “Why, God?!”
Fascinating stuff, right?
Barnett, Paul. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 1997.