Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 12:7-10
None of us like trouble, but it is inevitable in this fallen world, and Christians are not exempt. In fact, the Bible is quite clear that we who know Christ, will sometimes suffer above and beyond the rest of humanity.
So what is God doing? “Why?” is the familiar question on the lips and in the minds of sufferers. Well, II Corinthians 12, suggests two answers to the “why?”.
First God desires us to be humble. Paul admits that it was to keep him from becoming conceited that he was given a thorn in the flesh. Pride is the Evil One’s game, but in the Beatitudes Jesus blesses the poor, the meek, those who mourn and those who suffer. The things we suffer drive us to the end of ourselves – humble us, break us, and make us useful to the Lord. How precious to us, to be helplessly pinned to the Lord. It is the path of true greatness.
Second, God’s purpose is to demonstrate his own grace and power. Now, if you wanted to showcase a gold trophy, you wouldn’t put gold foil behind it; that would detract from the trophy. Instead, you would put black cloth behind it, so that only the trophy is seen. Similarly, when God wants to demonstrate his mighty power and grace, he does not pick the strongest, most capable, most righteous people; he picks the weakest, most helpless people. And against the backdrop of our darkest days, God’s glorious power and wisdom are displayed.
~Pastor Bert Hitchcock