2 Corinthians 12:7-9
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
If painful situations came and went quickly we wouldn’t dread them so. Sometimes we get lucky and they are resolved. Other times they drag on for years and get worse as time goes by. Then, there are those heart breaking struggles that we just have to find a way to live with. Paul had just this sort of trial arise in His life. It was a pain He had to endure. When He cried out for God to take it away the answer was simply my grace is sufficient. Sufficient. I’ve often thought about this Scripture during difficult times and reading it again brought me peace. I realized God was constantly aware of Paul situation. He had considered it and found that, whatever the issue was the Bible never revealed the actual problem, our Heavenly Father knew Paul needed it to help this mighty man of faith stand. It’s important to remember here that God’s ways are not our ways they are much higher. Our heavenly Father views life from a different perspective than we do. He sees it from beginning to end. Though the issue itself was never revealed we do know why God allowed it – to keep Paul humble. He was an intelligent man which God had blessed with more than merely worldly knowledge but divine insights. Thus Paul was prone to conceit but the issue kept him humble and close to God. If God had removed it perhaps Paul would have drifted back into the ways of the world rendering his ministry ineffective.
What Paul wanted most in life was to walk with the Father. It was then that He was happiest and the issue kept Him from drifting. Many of us know what it is like to have God remove a painful obstacle from our lives only for us to drift in our devotion to Him. The need to cry out no longer exists so soon time spent with God goes from long daily prayer sessions to praying in the car briefly on the way to work. The prayer closet set up to survive the storm begins to gather dust. Ole how we cry out to God when in pain and ole how we neglect our Father once He has met our need.
Drifting in and out of faith would have meant sure death for Paul early in his ministry and none of the letters he penned in the Bible which give followers of Christ encouragement and strength today would have been written. The times were brutal and required absolute faith. If Paul had drifted many would be lost today. It was this mighty man of faith that brought the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles. The ‘thorn in the flesh’ as he described it humbled him and reminded him daily that he needed the Father. Thus though painful it was ultimately a blessing.
Painful situations and trouble serve the same purpose in our lives today. If viewed from the right perspective they are blessings. Trouble drives pride, jealousy, greed and lust out replacing them with faith. It forces us to take our eyes off the temporary and fix them on the eternal. Once we are able to see suffering from its proper perspective it can be conquered through reading the Word of God and developing a strong prayer life. There was a time when I’d crumble when the storms of life hit but now I face them head on asking, ‘what are you here to teach me?’. If I have to suffer I will grow from it. We learn things in the storm that cannot be learned through comfort which make us wiser and stronger. Use whatever hardships you are enduring today to increase your faith and drive you closer to God. And remember what the devil means for evil God will use for good. Put Him first, focus only on Him, Cast your cares, Stay in Constant Prayer throughout the Day and Study His Word. This is a steadfast plan that never fails.