Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the daunting circumstances of your life? Do you find yourself, as a follower of God, asking Him to take away your struggles? Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament and a passionate disciple of Jesus, writes about a struggle he faced….one he desperately wanted God to remove from his life.
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul prayed for a thorn to be removed from his flesh, but God stayed His Hand. What grabs my attention about the story is not that God allowed Paul to continue with his struggle, but that Paul focused more on God’s willingness to provide Paul the strength to fight and endure the battle.
You see, as followers, we must strive to put our focus squarely on God…on His provision….on His will. When sin entered the world, everything changed, and God allowed us to suffer the consequences of sin. As a result, we live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people…..where we suffer unjustly sometimes….where temptation lies around every corner. While we are in this world, we WILL have trouble. So, expecting temptation to be removed or life to be easy means we have a misunderstanding of the world we live in. We must take God at His word: Life will be hard. His promise is just as real, though: He will be with us; He will not forsake us; He will provide us the strength to not only endure, but to live an abundant life DESPITE the struggle.
In the words of a popular song, He promises to calm His child, even if He doesn’t calm the storm.
It is a counter-cultural idea to think that God has a plan that involves me but doesn’t revolve around me. Food for thought, don’t you think?