A plan made in time of need is a plan made too late. Planning beforehand for the inevitable, or even for the unlikely, is something we are very familiar with. Insurance companies thrive on the plans we make for the unlikely accident, or the inevitable death. We have emergency plans in place in case of criminal activity, natural disasters, or urgent medical need.

There is another inevitable mishap of life that comes with more regularity than any other, yet we tend to have very little by way of a pre-determined plan on how to handle it. It is the more general reality of suffering. Suffering, perhaps more so than any other more specific mishap, illustrates how important it is to have a plan for it long before it happens. It is hard to develop a theology of God’s sovereignty in the midst of a trial, but when you use the time of ease to develop that truth, then it is of tremendous help in dealing with the trial. Similarly, it is only of real value to take out medical insurance before you experience that strange pain that won’t go away.

2 Corinthians is a book of all kinds of suffering. In chapter 1 already Paul reveals his Plan for Suffering. In case of suffering, do this:

  • praise God for playing the comforting role during suffering (2 Cor 1:3),
  • identify how you are comforted by God so you can share comfort in the same way with others when they suffer like you did (2 Cor 1:4-7),
  • acknowelge, and do not hide, the full extent of suffering (2 Cor 1:8-9a),
  • realise that it is time to stop being so self-sufficient and instead rely on God (2 Cor 1:9b-10) and your fellow Christians (2 Cor 1:11),
  • and for the sake of keeping a clear mind, be courageous in simple godliness one day at a time (2 Cor 1:12)

Suffering is inevitable in this sin-stained world. Put a plan in place so that our suffering will evidence a strong faith in God, an undying love for one another, and the joy of a clear conscience.