Have you ever pleaded, “God, why won’t you take this away?”
Paul describes the trials and hardships he has endured for the cause of Christ— hard labor, imprisonments, beatings with rods, stonings , robbery, and multiple shipwrecks. He says he had been cold, weary, hungry, and had gone without sleep. He had been betrayed by friends, misunderstood and falsely accused. (See 2 Cor 11:22-29).
And then Paul says an odd thing, “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.” (2 Cor 11:30, NKJV)
At first glance, it seems as if Paul might be trying to prove his allegiance to Christ because of his endurance of hard things. To be sure, Paul didn’t give up serving the Lord when he was persecuted for doing so.
But there is more.
Paul goes on to talk of the thorn in his flesh that he had pleaded with the Lord to take away.
Scholars still debate the nature of Paul’s thorn.
But regardless of the type of “thorn”, we know it was a hardship that Paul had asked God to take away multiple times; but God had chosen not to do so for one of His most dedicated servants. (2 Cor 12:7-8).
And with that “no”, Paul could have stomped off, reasoning that surely with all he was enduring for Christ that God should remove his thorn.
Can any of you relate?
Surely, we can.
How many times have I begged God just to fix something?
How many times have I prayerfully explained that I could serve Him better if I didn’t have to deal with THAT?
As Christians, we believe in an all-powerful God; and the more we walk with Him, the more we realize He will sometimes do things we don’t like or understand.
Often our human minds are tempted to reason that, if our Heavenly Father truly cared about us, He would take away our painful troubles.
We know, we are certain, with just a word from His Mighty Lips, our struggles could vanish. That’s all it would take!
Paul knew that too. He says, “I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.” (2 Cor 12:8)
Please feel the heaviness of those words. Paul was begging God to take “it” away.
And God said, “no.” … because He was giving something better.
Paul says, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”( 2 Cor 12:8)
Paul was receiving God’s perfect strength.
Because it is precisely there…in our weakness, that the power of Christ rests on us. (2 Cor 12:9).
In Paul’s life, and in ours, weakness is, often, the very avenue through which God’s power and purpose comes.
When we are stretched beyond ourselves, when we are weary, worn, tempted and tried, when we know we can’t do it but give “it” to God to use for His purpose and His glory—we find a supernatural keep-going peace!
We see His strength in us. We see Him fight our battles. We see Him provide a way. We see Him help us hold on.
We see Him do in and through us what we could never do ourselves. This is God’s perfect strength for us!
It is so much more than some “pump-you-up” motivational speech to know God-in-you is carrying you through what you could never walk through on your own.
And it is there, that the weakest of weak among us (like me) can, like Paul, say, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Whatever your thorn, because Jesus is with you, always faithfully with you, you can be strong!
And, like Paul, you can say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10, ESV)
Content in the struggle of this day!
Strong for whatever life may bring!
What a Savior!