This post is part of my book launch, Meeting God at Wits’ End: Hope for the Weary
Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Paul’s life wasn’t a bed of roses. He experienced “far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.” He wrote: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardships, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:23-28).
If that wasn’t enough, God had allowed “a messenger of Satan” to harass him (2 Cor. 12:7). Is this how God treats His chosen instrument? At his conversion, God had stated his coming suffering: “For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” (Acts 9:15-16). Is this kind of Christianity even conceivable in a rich, western country?
While we certainly cannot compare ourselves to Paul, we must learn from him that difficulties, hardships, continual affliction, and significant suffering aren’t foreign to God’s saints. Christians in third world countries and those who live within hostile governments can easily attest to that.
Even though we may not experience the suffering that many of our brothers and sisters face throughout the world, we do have to realize that God also allows (ordains!) difficulties, hardships, and continual affliction in our lives, even until we die. Does He do so randomly or does He have a divine purpose?
Three times Paul pleaded with Jesus to remove the thorn in his flesh, whatever it was. Yet, even though Jesus could do so, He didn’t do it? Why? He said: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Our weaknesses, difficulties, and hardships are meant to reveal His grace and power, especially in our perseverance, holding on to the One who has “the words of eternal life.” We must learn that life doesn’t revolve around us and our comfort, but is centered on Jesus and the revelation of His grace and power.
Lord Jesus, thank You that Your grace and power are sufficient for me.
The Devotional Writer