Health issues can be challenging. As we age, they seem to increase daily. I look forward to the new body God promises us when we are home with the Lord.
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)
One of the most impactful lessons we learn from Paul is how to be faithful in the midst of suffering. Paul was blessed by the Lord to receive divine revelation from God. However, it appears the Lord gave him a thorn in the flesh to keep him from becoming conceited and proud. God put something in Paul’s life that made him dependent on God for strength.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 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 12:7-9 (NKJV)
When God doesn’t remove the thorns in our lives, He provides Himself in the midst of our pain, and He is enough. Everything in our lives is ‘Father filtered.’ He knows how much we can handle and will be there to walk us through any suffering and trial He allows in our lives.
I have often pondered the suffering of the early church and wondered how they endured such tribulations. They were torn apart by lions, burnt or boiled alive, crucified, and underwent many other horrific deaths. Knowing that Jesus willingly faced such anguish would have given them strength to undergo their own suffering. Although we may question why they had to die in such painful ways, the Bible tells us that God’s grace is always sufficient.
Our Lord walks beside us through every storm and strengthens us supernaturally. By His grace we are able to endure the unthinkable. We also know that God deeply loves us. He showed the depth of His love by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us, where He took away all of our sins. Varying amounts of grace are bestowed, in the form of the differing gifts of service He gives us. In other words, God’s grace is sufficient for every task He assigns. Whatever comes our way we are equipped to face and endure it for the glory and praise of God.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (NKJV)
Regarding 2 Corinthians 12: 9. Grace is that which affords joy, pleasure, and delight. This joy comes when God exerts His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and strengthens them. My grace is sufficient means that the sufficient grace of God is enough for us and should produce contentment. To be made perfect: we are encouraged that our suffering completes and fulfills God’s will and to our sanctification. Virtue and spiritual maturity is added to what was lacking within us. Imagine the power of Christ is upon you. Like a tent or habitation, it possesses us and lives within us giving us help.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)
If you are experiencing spiritual, physical, or emotional suffering please know that God loves you and is with you. He has not and never will abandoned you. Just as God was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were thrown into the fiery furnace of king Nebuchadnezzar, He is with you (Daniel 3:24-26). Find your rest and peace in God’s love. He has seen and made a record of your tears. You are not forgotten. He has carved your name on the palm of His hand.
“Record my misery; list my tears on Your scroll-are they not in Your record?” Psalm 56:8 (NIV)
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before Me.” Isaiah 49:16 (NIV)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-8 (NIV)