God's Message In Suffering
“God 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
This passage contains God’s answer to the Apostle Paul when he asked Him (three times) to remove the painful “thorn in his flesh” that continually plagued him. The fact that Paul referred it as “a messenger from Satan sent to torment me” tells us that this wasn’t just a nagging ache. It was a deep, agonizing pain. Whether it was physical or emotional doesn’t really matter, because both can be excruciating and equally devastating.
God’s answer to Paul sounds like that of a gentle, loving, yet firm Father. Because He is the perfect Father, God knows when to say “no” to His children. In His infinite wisdom, He perfectly balances compassion and discipline. But God did not remain silent; He did answer Paul. His answer gently lifted Paul’s chin up so that he could fix his gaze heavenward instead of on himself. “Look at Me,” God redirected Paul. “I am more than You need. I am enough. The less there is of your strength, the more there is of Mine” (my paraphrase).
Notice what happens in Paul’s life after God answers him. For Christ’s sake, and because of His all-sufficient grace, Paul learned to delight in hardship. Weaknesses, insults, persecutions, and difficulties were considered opportunities for God’s power to be perfected in him. In other words, God’s power was fully displayed in the areas of Paul’s life where he was the weakest. It is important to understand what Paul meant by “delight.” He wasn’t saying that he loved being persecuted, or that he enjoyed being insulted. The meaning of delight in this verse is, “to be contented with.” God’s answer enabled Paul to be content in his circumstances, however difficult.
What a loving Father! He loves us too much to spoil us. He knows that if our lives were easy, our hearts would wander from Him. He chooses instead to give His children something greater than a trouble-free life—He gives us Himself. We get His power, His grace, and His peace. And that, unlike the hardships of this life, will last forever.
Loving Father, Thank You for Your all-sufficient grace. You enable me to stand when life tries to knock me down. Please help me to keep my eyes and my heart fixed on Jesus and to suffer well for His sake and for Your glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.