2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Friday, 5 February 2021
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Cor. 12:10
Paul the Apostle was called and transformed by Christ Jesus himself who made him a ‘light for the gentiles’; he was the great New Testament missionary who dedicated his entire life for the sake of Gospel. Yet if we list down the afflictions of Paul, it’s difficult for us to fathom;however he found strength in the Lord in it all!
Paul had many near-death experiences. The Jews had punished him with 39 lashes with a whip; 3 times he was beaten with rods, 1 time he was stoned to death; 3 times he was shipwrecked; and one of those times he spent a night and a day in the sea; and several other hardships (2Cor.11:22ff)
Only in the classroom of suffering can one get its lessons and discover the purpose of suffering. Like Paul, perhaps most of us can’t see the purpose of our pain right away. But in the midst of difficult situations, we have an opportunity to put our foot on the pedal of faith that could speed up our Christian growth like nothing else could. It calls for tremendous faith to pray to God who allows those difficult times: “God, I don’t know the intent of this situation, but I trust You to have a purpose in it.”
Paul prayed to remove “the thorn in the flesh” three times (vs.7,8). The answer for his prayer from Jesus was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” …and he accepted it and said: “When I am weak, then I am strong,” (Vs.9, 10) And that’s the power of God working in his pain. Christ’s power was upon him in the pain, then he would rather have the strength of Christ than his own weakness.
Illustration: We all admire the beauty of a pearl but do you know how the pearl came to be? A grain of sand, a tiny little irritant slips inside the tight seal of an oyster’s shell, and immediately causes discomfort. Unable to expel the grain of sand or ease the pain, the oyster coats the sand with a layer of the inner lining of its shell to make the sand smooth. But it does not ease the oyster's suffering; again and again the oyster coats the sand attempting to get rid of the irritant but with little effect. For the oyster, what we call a “pearl” is nothing but a product of great suffering! One day when the oyster is fished from water and opened, behold the gem! The gem inside has amazing beauty and great value – produced by the oyster’s great suffering!
This is exactly what happened in the life of Paul and with other Christian men and women of God and many who became martyrs. 2 Timothy 2:12 says “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” Towards the end of Paul’s life he was so content, in spite of all his sufferings for the sake of Gospel. We read thus in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (KJV) “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Remember: Pain impels Power when it meets with Trust and Obedience to Jesus! May God bless us to carry on with His supernatural power as we go through the suffering for the Gospel. May the weaknesses in our lives be where God’s strength will be made perfect.
Life Application: When a weakness surfaces in us, remember that God can still use you and me. Be determined and focused in His service entrusted to us, depending on God’s strength. Depend on Him every step of the way.