It goes without saying how we are all in the middle of a crisis. Yet Christians are built to thrive within crisis.
When you live by faith, circumstances do not nullify God’s word or promises.
Yet, situations have the potential of unseating us from God’s promises if they can get us to respond in the flesh and not by faith.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, we gain another intimate look into the life of Paul and how he dealt with persistent pain and hardships by tapping into a power beyond himself.
“for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,” Proverbs 24:16a
Life has a way of upsetting our plans and routines. The key is getting back up. When you are walking by faith, residing within you is a power to get back up.
When dealing with pain or difficulties, prayer is the most effective approach to resolving it. If we are attempting to address the issues of life without prayer, we are forsaking our greatest resource as Christians.
But what do you do when your prayers are not answered how you want them to or, even worse, when you get an answer you weren’t expecting?
In 2 Corinthians 12, we learn how Paul had a thorn in the flesh, given him to keep him from being prideful or arrogant.
“Pride is the mother hen in which all other sins are hatched.” C.S. Lewis
Pride can creep into our lives from a variety of entry points.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Elevating ourselves over others leads to self-destruction.
We don’t have to lift ourselves up to get God’s attention or to validate our worth. God takes the simplicity of our lives and amplifies them to His glory and for our good.
We can’t say with 100% accuracy what Paul’s thorn was. Yet, by being intentionally vague, he leaves room for you and I to identify with him with whatever persistent pains and unanswered prayers we were facing.
Paul’s pain was severe enough that he prayed multiple times for God to alleviate it. Every time you pray, remember, God sees more than you see and has a broader perspective on your answered prayer than you know.
God answers Paul’s prayer but not in the fashion Paul was expecting.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Grace is more than unmerited favor but a sustaining power to endure life’s challenges.
“Times come in our lives when we must accept what is inescapable and then listen for what God is saying to us through it.” (NAC)
Instead of delivering Paul from the “thorn,” God supplied a grace to withstand it so he could maintain joy and peace through it. Our crisis’ reveals a depth of grace that we would not know about if it weren’t for pain.
Here’s the thing, we aren’t going to avoid every hardship in life, but if we can learn how to lean on God’s grace, and maintain our faith, joy, and peace through anything life throughs at us, then we win!
God’s answer to Paul was two-fold. Grace is sufficient, and God’s power is made perfect in my weakness.
As we walk by faith, crisis’ will not destroy you, but the opposite happens. God’s power is perfected through our weakness.
It’s not my power, or will-power, or mind-over-matter power but the power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the grave-power. It’s an unrivaled, unmatched power.
The word “perfect” is translated from the same word that Jesus spoke on the cross when He said, “it is finished.” What this tells us is that God’s power is complete; it will accomplish what it’s designed to do; it cannot be matched.
Paul’s thorn would not diminish his calling or purpose in life or bring life to a stand-still as some might assume. God’s grace and power work through Paul to do what he is limited in the flesh alone to accomplish.
It’s for Christ’s sake that Paul endures, just as Christ endured the cross and its shame for us. Weakness/crisis does not have control over the person who is resting in God’s grace as His power is perfected in our weakness.
This revelation led Paul to proclaim, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
He recognized that what was meant to cause him grief and pain in the flesh, even destroy him, is redeemed by God’s grace and power. God may not deliver you from the pain but will grace and empower you through it.
In Christ, we can maintain our joy and peace, no matter the size of our crisis or depth of our pain, because God’s grace is sufficient!