The effects of this pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world, putting many in physical misery as well as causing all kinds of financial hardship.
While it is unusual in that its affects are being felt around the world at the same time, having pain and hardship is obviously not a new thing. We live in a fallen world. There will be pain in our lives, whether it is aches or ailments, trauma, or a difficult financial time. At some point we will shed tears and grieve. But Scripture tells us how to deal with these situations—through prayer, acceptance, and grace from God.
Let’s see how Paul handled one of his many hardships and what God ultimately told him. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says:
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)
Paul opens with a statement, telling us about his thorn. The word “thorn” here is much more than a tack or something prickly on a bush. In Greek, the word means “tent stake.” Obviously, whatever this thorn was, it was a big issue to him.
Paul then goes to prayer and ‒ like we would do ‒ asks God to remove the problem.Scripture tells us how to deal with painful situations—through prayer, acceptance, and grace from God. Click To Tweet
What did God say? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, instead of healing Paul or removing the thorn, God gave him something better—the promise of God. “My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
From this, we can understand some principles:
- When we pray and plead with God for something, it does not necessarily mean he will remove that pain or burden or make something happen for us.
- God’s grace is sufficient to take us through all trials that we may face on earth.
- It is important that we come to experience this all-sufficient grace.
- This grace will take us through the darkest nights with a smile.
- This grace will sustain us when all else has failed us.
- This grace will turn our crosses into crowns.
What did Paul tell us after he heard God speak to him?
- He accepted the thorn: the pain, the suffering, the trails, the hurt, the tears.
- He boasted gladly in the weaknesses, insults, hardships.
- He looked beyond the weakness or problem to the glorious fruit that God was bringing into his life, for it forced him to stay close to God that he might experience His strength.
So when you and I feel weak and vulnerable when facing ongoing Covid-19 and other difficulties, we need to remember Paul’s words: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Why? Because the power of Christ rests upon us and His grace is sufficient for us.