Fight for Joy! Blog
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Suffering and God's Sufficient Grace
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me – to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Many believers struggle with why bad things happen to good people. They logically conclude that if God is really a good God then surely He has to be opposed to the suffering of His people. However, the Bible paints a different story. We understand that it is through suffering that the believer will come to share in God’s glory: “We suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:17). We also know that those who perpetrate evil against God’s people will not win in the end: “But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off” (Psalm 37:38). But what about suffering that is not necessarily the result of someone else’s evil schemes? After all, we not only suffer because we are believers. We also suffer as believers. That is, we all have experienced or know someone who has personally experienced great suffering in this life. Some have battled with disease. Others have suffered great loss. Some have watched their dreams fall apart. In fact, for some, there seems to be no end to suffering.
The Apostle Paul was no stranger to suffering. The Bible records for us that Paul suffered through imprisonments, that he was beaten and often in danger of death. He was stoned and even suffered shipwreck on three different occasions. However, there was one form of suffering he endured about which the Bible says he “implored the Lord three times that it might leave me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). I do not believe he prayed three short prayers of “Lord, let it leave me.” Rather, these were three long seasons of prayer, perhaps months, even years, where he pleaded with God. However, each time God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” In other words, God’s grace was sufficient for Paul’s suffering. Likewise, His grace is sufficient for you and me, regardless of what suffering we might experience or are experiencing now. So how is the believer to experience God’s sufficient grace during times of suffering? I believe the key is where our focus is. In his first letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul said, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (2:1-5). This is the Word of the Lord!
Whatever your experience of suffering may be, remember this – God wants to demonstrate His Spirit and power through your suffering, “so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” His grace is absolutely and completely sufficient for you! It was so sufficient for Paul that he could write, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
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