“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I thought the Christian life was going to be easier than this. Have these words ever entered your mind? Sometimes we come into the family of God thinking that our heavenly Father will fix all our problems and devote Himself to our happiness and comfort. However, that is not the reality portrayed in Scripture. Paul was a man whom the Lord used greatly, and yet his life was anything but easy.
In fact, at one point, the apostle thought his pain was too much to bear, and he begged God to remove it. There’s nothing wrong with asking the Lord to relieve our suffering, but what should our response be if He doesn’t? Paul probably had no idea that His experience would find its way into the Bible, to comfort and guide believers throughout the ages. The promise God gave him applies to us as well: “My grace is sufficient for you” (v. 9).
God’s grace could be defined as His provision for us at the point of our need. The problem is that sometimes it doesn’t seem as if the Lord truly is meeting our need. But He frequently sees deficiencies, outcomes, and complications that we don’t. His goals for us involve spiritual growth, the development of Christlike character, and strong faith. And trials play a vital role in achieving these.
The important issue is how we respond. If all you want is relief, you could descend into anger and doubt. But if your desire is to become the person God wants you to be, you’ll see each trial as an opportunity for Christ to display His character and strength in you.
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