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Thursday, 25 July 2019

2 Corinthians 12 : 1-10

“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 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 the Gospel. Yet if we list down the afflictions of Paul, it is too hard for a person to fathom.

He had many near-death experiences.  The Jews had punished him with 39 lashes with a whip; three times he was beaten with rods, one time he was stoned to death; three times he was shipwrecked; and one of those times he spent a night and a day in the sea; it goes on and on.

Only students enrolled in the classroom of suffering are allowed to have its lessons and make the discovery in the purpose of suffering. Like Paul, perhaps most of us can’t see the purpose of our pain right at first. Amid the pain, there is an opportunity to put our pedal on faith that could accelerate our Christian growth like nothing else could. It calls for a tremendous step of faith to pray to God who allows the suffering: “God, I don’t know the purpose of this pain, but I trust You to have a purpose in it.”

Paul prayed to remove “the thorn in the flesh” three times (2Cor.7-8). When he heard the answer for his prayer from Jesus, he accepted to continue with the pain. “When I am weak, then I am strong,” Paul said (2Cor.10). And that’s the power of pain! If 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 great suffering!  But one day when the oyster is fished out 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 many other Christian martyrs.  2 Tim 2:12 says “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”  It is easy to pronounce, but difficult when it comes to application in life.  Towards the end of Paul’s life, he was so content, in spite of all his sufferings for the sake of Gospel. We read 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 accelerates Power when it meets up with Trust and Obedience to Jesus! May God bless each of us to carry on with His supernatural power as we go through times of weakness and suffering. 

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.

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