Here are some thoughts on God’s grace in adversity. I hope it uplifts and encourages you in your walk with the Lord.
All of us go through trials and struggles in life. But the Lord God uses these struggles for His glory. When we are going through our struggles in life we lean on and depend on our Lord more than ever to strengthen us in our weakness. Comfort us when we are in pain. His grace is ALWAYS sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) As we read, “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9) two messages were involved in this painful experience. The thorn in the flesh was Satan’s message to Paul; but God had another message for him: a message of grace upon grace. The tense of the verb used in 2 Corinthians 12:9 is important, “And He (God) has once-for-all said to me”. God gave Paul a message that stayed with him. The words Paul heard while in heaven he was not permitted to share with us; but he did share the words God gave him on earth-and what an encouragement they are!! It was a message of grace. “Kenn, what is grace?” It is God’s provision for our every need when we need it. His grace gives us what we do not deserve, and in His mercy He does NOT give us what we DO deserve.
Think of grace this way:
It is God’s Riches Available at Christ’s Expense. Take the first letter of each of these words and you have grace!!! “And of His (Christ’s) fullness have all we received, and grace for grace” (1 John 1:16) It was a message of sufficient grace!!! With God there is never a shortage of grace. God is sufficient for all of our Spiritual ministries as we read in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6)”. And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) He is sufficient for our material needs as well as we read in 2 Corinthians 9:8: ” And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work”, (2 Corinthians 9:8) and God is sufficient for our physical needs (2 Corinthians 12:9, as we read again: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9), If God’s grace is sufficient to save us surely it is sufficient to keep us and strengthen us in our times of struggle and suffering. It was also a message of strengthening grace!! God permits us to become weak so that we might receive His strength.
This is a continuous process: my strength (or power) is being made perfect in your weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9) strength that knows itself to be strength is actually weakness; but weakness that knows itself to be weakness is actually strength. In our Christian life we receive blessings through transformation not substitution. When Paul prayed three times for the removal of his pain he was asking God for a substitution “give me health instead of sickness, deliverance instead of pain and weakness”. Sometimes God does meet the need by substitution; other times He meets the need by transformation. He does NOT remove our affliction, but He gives us His grace so that our afflictions works for us and not against us. As Paul prayed about his problem God gave him a deeper insight into what He (God) was doing. Paul learned that his thorn in the flesh was a gift from God. We might think what a strange gift”!! There was only one thing for Paul to do: accept the gift from God and allow God to accomplish His purpose. God wanted to keep Paul from being “exalted above measure” and this was His way of accomplishing it. When Paul accepted his affliction as the gift of God, this made it possible for God’s grace to go to work in his life. It was then that God spoke to Paul and gave him the assurance of His grace. Whenever we are going through suffering and our struggles in life, we should spend extra time in the Word of God; and we can be sure that God will speak to us. He always has a special message for his children when they are afflicted. God did not give Paul any explanations; instead He gave him His presence. We do not live on explanations we live on promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change!! And promises generate faith; and faith strengthens hope.
Paul claimed God’s promise and drew on the grace that was offered to him. This turned seeming tragedy into triumph. God did not change the situation by removing the affliction. He changed it by adding a new ingredient: His grace!! Our God is “the God of all grace” (1 Peter 510) and His throne is a “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16) The Word of God is ‘the Word of His grace (Acts 20:32) and the promise is that “He giveth more grace” (James 4:6). No matter how we look at it, God is adequate for every need that we have. But God does not give us His grace simply that we might “endure” our suffering. Even unconverted people can manifest great endurance. God’s grace should enable us to rise above our circumstances and feelings and cause our afflictions to work for us in accomplishing positive good. God wants to build our character so that we are more like our Savior. God’s grace enabled Paul not only to accept His afflictions but to glory in them. His suffering was not a tyrant that controlled him but a servant that worked for him. “Kenn, what benefits did Paul receive from his suffering?” For one thing; he experienced the power of Christ in his life. God transformed Paul’s weakness into strength. The word translated “rest” means “to spread a tent over”.Paul saw his body as a frail tent as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). The glory of God had come into that tent and transformed it into a holy tabernacle. Something else happened to Paul; he was able to glory in his infirmities. This does not mean that Paul preferred pain and suffering to good health, but rather that he knew how to turn his infirmities into assets.
Paul took “pleasure” in these trials and problems, not because he was psychologically unbalanced and enjoyed pain, but because he was suffering for the sake of Christ. He was glorifying God by the way he accepted and handled the difficult experiences of life. God uses suffering to perfect His power. We would all like to be powerful for the Lord. We would all like to think our lives really mattered. That our lives were a saver of life to life, or death to death. That we were living lives of powerful influence.
It’s a nagging painful realization for most people in the world that their lives don’t matter at all. It’s wonderful for Christians to think of lives that really matter eternally. And that means our lives need to be powerful for God. We read again in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “Not only is My grace sufficient for you, but My power is perfected in weakness.” My (the Lord) power just begins to operate in its fullness when we have none left. The suffering that humbles us, the suffering that draws us into His presence, the suffering that dispenses His grace is also the suffering that makes us powerful!!! Yes, it’s when we are broken, it’s when we are at the end of our own resources. It’s when we have nothing in ourselves to lean on or trust in that we cast ourselves completely on the Lord that we really become powerful.
As long as we keep trusting in our own ingenuity, as long as we keep trusting in our own cleverness, as long as we keep trusting in our own money and our own ideas and our own strategies and we keep trusting in our own ability to solve all problems and accomplish all ends in ministry or whatever it is, as long as we operate, we are going to be weak. No one is too weak to be powerful, but many are too strong to be powerful. When we come to the end of ourselves then we begin to see the power of God released through our emptiness.
Grace enables us to make it, no matter what. No matter who turns against us, no matter what obstacles we face, no matter how many times we fail. God’s incredible grace is there to pick us up, to revive lost hope, to heal broken bones, and to strengthen our weak will. It is never inadequate, nor is it ever depleted. It never spoils and it has no expiration date. In God’s system, the more we attempt to control things ourselves the more we close off access to the Spirit’s power. On the other hand, the more we relinquish control to God’s Spirit to guide us, to inspire us, to act through us; the more power we have. And not just any power. It is the power that created the entire universe, that healed the sick through Jesus’ touch, the power that raised Christ from the dead. That is the power we have!!!
So, the weaker we become in the world’s eyes, the more power we actually have!!!
It is my hope this uplifts and encourages you in your walk with our Lord!!