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If we were having a coffee date …
I’m sure we could fill the entire conversation with memories, or perhaps current situations, of unjust suffering in our lives. It’s the suffering that we haven’t caused for ourselves but suddenly appears, breaking our hearts and leaving us with no answers as to why it happened or when it will be corrected. Experiences like these always stay with us, because, it seems, there are always questions lingering that we can’t silence.
Unjust suffering looks like a hard and dedicated worker losing their job. It looks like a parent losing their child well before their time, whether hours or years from birth. It looks like someone else getting the one thing you most desired in your heart, and now your dreams have become like ashes.
The apostle Paul experienced unjust suffering himself, and by inquiring of God to take it away, he gained the answer that can silence every lingering and painful question about why undue suffering comes our way.
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. 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.
Paul, being so advanced spiritually, could have boasted about it and been praised by many people who knew him. But, even though he chose not to boast, he was given a “thorn” in his flesh to keep him from inner conceit.
The fact that Paul asked God three times to remove it shows us he was initially confused by the purpose of this “thorn,” and wanted the unjust suffering removed from his life so he could carry on with righteous work. But God would not do so, telling him, “My power is made perfect in weakness.”
When we are afflicted, weakened, suffering–we have the opportunity to draw near to God, whether it be immediately or eventually. This ultimately humbles us, and reminds us of our dependence on him. Paul needed that reminder despite his heart and spirituality being in the right place, and so do we.
Now, dear one, when you are suffering and tempted to ask God why… just realize he has already given the answer. His power is made perfect in your weakness, and sometimes that weakness is not your fault. It’s merely part of the plan God has had for you all along, to keep you very close and dependent on him.
How is God encouraging you today?
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