Have you ever been in a situation that just didn’t make any sense? You cried out to God and said to him, “I don’t understand.” Or maybe you questioned God, “Why did this happen to me? Why didn’t you take the pain away? Why do I have to go through this?”
If you’re never been in a situation like that, unfortunately your day is coming but for those who have already experienced that kind of pain you can look back and reflect.
That is what Paul did when he went through a difficult situation. In 2 Corinthians 12, we learn that he had a thorn in his flesh. He describes it as a messenger from Satan to torment him. However, what is also interesting to note is that the Bible says “it was given to him” (v 7). The verb used to describe this phrase actually means that the person allowing him to go through the trouble was God. That’s right you read that right, God. This may not always make sense but there are times in life where God is allowing you to experience trouble but the person who is causing the trouble is Satan himself. Permitted by God but caused by Satan. Let that sink it. Is that what you are going through right now?
What kind of thorns in your flesh are you dealing with lately? It has been said that Paul might’ve been experiencing sickness or some sort of temptation. Thorns in our flesh come in all shapes and sizes. A phone call about your child. Job conflict. Trouble in your marriage. Trouble with your health and on and on the list goes. Also, the attack is tormenting you. Is that how you have been feeling lately? Tormented? Paul felt this way too.
Yet, while Paul understood in his situation that God was allowing him to go to the problem, the attack was from Satan.
BUT and this is a big but ..... God was carrying out his purpose despite the attack. Paul said that this was happening to him because God wanted him to not become conceited (v 7). It was for a purpose. Sometimes we forget that God has a purpose, a plan, and a will. When we look at our situation outside of context it will not make sense but when we look at it from the angle that God is still fulfilling his purpose - it all comes together.
When you look at your situation, can you discern that this is caused by Satan, allowed by God, and are you able discern what purpose is going on in your life?
Is God using your situation to shape you?
Is he using it to draw you closer to him?
Is he using it to have you acknowledge that Jesus is Lord?
Maybe you’ve never thought about your situation that way but maybe it’s time to look at it like that because despite the pain you’re going through God‘s purpose is being carried out.
And while Paul did not like the thorn in this flesh and he did not like to be tormented, he makes a very important statement that will help us too. He said God told him” but my grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness” (v 9). What does this mean? Paul is saying is while he did not desire this suffering, he’s experiencing God’s grace and power.
What about you can you testify to the power and grace of God in your life despite your suffering?
I know I can.
When I felt pressured in school God’s grace and power showed up in my life by giving me the ability to complete the assignments exam and graduate.
When I wasn’t sure about my call in life, God’s grace and power showed up in my life and sent people to encourage me.
When someone I cared about betrayed, hurt, and rejected me God’s grace and power showed up in my life by showing me that he loved and cared for me.
When I did not think I was going to make it financially, God’s grace and power showed up in my life by sending me his provision.
Did I like the stress? No
Did I like feeling insecure? No
Did I like being betrayed by someone I cared about? No
Did I like being unsure about my financial situation? No
But God’s grace and power was sufficient for me. Just like Paul now I can say my suffering is a platform for God’s glory, grace and his power.
Maybe, instead of focusing on our pain, suffering, or trial let us be like Paul who realized God‘s purpose was being carried out.
There are other people in the Bible who went through hard times too. Job in the Old Testament had to go through the same situation and even Jesus himself had to go through suffering and pain. In each case the Lord allowed the trouble. The attack came from Satan but God‘s will was being fulfilled. Job was being tested for his faith in God. In Jesus situation he asked for his cup to be taken away from him but it was not. Instead of fighting his destiny he embraced it and through it all God‘s plan and purpose was fulfilled. Our salvation. Our freedom from sin. Our transition from death to life. Our blessing.
Despite the pain you and I have to go through, God’s purpose is being fulfilled.
Maybe right now you are too heartbroken to see God’s purpose. That is okay. Grieve, mourn, and tell God how you feel but eventually like Paul see your situation from God’s perspective. He is still working out his plan, his will, and purpose in your life.
As time continues, and you draw close to God, you will be able to say just like Paul, God’s grace was sufficient and you experienced God’s power.
Today is a new day. Release your pain to God. Let his grace and power guide you. Let your heart be healed by his love. Let God show his plan and good will.
He’s a good God and he knows what he is doing. In time when you look back you will say that God did not leave you and he did indeed care for you. Don’t give up, keep going in faith.
To watch the full sermon on this topic click here.