2 Corinthians 12:8-9
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
If anyone of us has ever experienced seasons of adversity we’ve also experienced moments in which we desired a “Quick-fix” solution or at least some sort of “light at the end of the tunnel” kind of vision so that we could tell ourselves “the end to this ordeal is hopefully approaching quite near.” However, with depression, anxiety, or just the heaviness of life situations – this is not usually the norm, and for so many of us it is as it was for the Apostle Paul, a daily test in ‘pressing into the Lord’ depending on His strength to carry us through. We understand that Paul was given a “Thorn in the flesh” (some sort of chronic ailment/limitation) by God, ultimately to keep him grounded (humble in spirit) – and even as he “Three times pleaded with the Lord to take it away,” the Lord had greater plans for Paul’s suffering. At this point one might question, “How could a good, great, and loving heavenly Father leave such a devoted servant of His own with this type of limitation or disability – refusing to remove it?” In short answer, Pastor Johnny Hunt comments, “The Lord knows more about what He wants to do with us in the difficult circumstances and seasons of our lives than we realize.”
God was beginning to teach Paul more about the Resilient Power of His grace, and that Paul need not fear his circumstances, though painful at the present moment, they would ultimately be for his good. Upon Paul’s repeated requests that his infirmity be removed, God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” What a response from a holy God who says, ‘I have allowed you to suffer with a purpose, so that My grace will be made known fully sufficient to you, and My power will be on full display in your life before others.’ This is the picture of God using our seasons of suffering, tragedy, pain, and hardship for the benefit of others as they see our faithfulness to continue to press into the Lord, and He to remain faithful to us. Thus, Paul’s most appropriate response here is, “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Because of Paul’s deep, personal relationship with the Lord, he could humbly accept God’s answer to his repeated plea for deliverance without becoming bitter or resentful in his circumstances. If we are able to surrender every area of our lives to the Lord and respond to Him in humility with faith, we will be able to truly say “It Is Well With My Soul,” regardless of our circumstances.
Joe Padilla of Mental Health Grace Alliance invests his life in working with those living the journey of life with anxiety, depression, and/or mental illnesses. The "Silver Lining" or “The Beauty of Mental Illness,” says Padilla, is “The Mastery of Grace.” In his article, Staying Grounded: The Long-Haul Grace vs. The Quick-Fix Miracle, Padilla writes, “For those struggling with mental illness or for those caring for them...As difficult as mental illness can be, their suffering touches the deepest fabrics of human life and, like Spurgeon (In the 1800's Charles Spurgeon was known as the "Prince of Preachers," yet he struggled intensely with depression), they uniquely have a deeper sense of compassion for others who are weary of life. Their incredible empathy empowers them to be beautiful conduits of Christ's love and grace. Jesus is with them and He teaches them the mastery of grace! I love learning from them ... even when it's difficult." Therefore, if God is allowing you to walk such a journey in your life right now, He still has great and unique plans for you, so press on, and press into Him – His is a ‘Resilient Grace’!
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, thank You for Your unending, overflowing gift of grace in our daily lives that serves to empower us with Your strength in our weakest moments. You, Lord, are forever our strength in those times of weakness in our lives when the journey becomes difficult, when we are weary and worn. Thank You for Your promise that Your grace is sufficient for us and that our Savior, Christ Jesus’ power rests upon us during those occasions of spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical weakness. You are the God of Resilient Grace who holds our lives in the very hollow of Your hand, which allows us to proclaim in times of struggle, “It Is Well With My Soul.”
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.