We live in a fallen and sin-cursed world. Even Christians are not immune from the frustrating and often overwhelming circumstances of life resulting from that curse. Christians are not exempt from experiencing heartache. But one can find comfort, encouragement, and the strength to endure from God’s words to Paul.
“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.” –2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, or circumstances, or any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son.
God wants us to lean continually on Him for strength.
Mankind was created to be dependent upon God; physically, “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28); and spiritually, Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). God intended our dependence on Him to be conscious and continuous.
Before we can learn the sufficiency of God’s grace, we must learn the insufficiency of ourselves. “But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20).
God’s grace isn’t given to make us feel better, but instead to glorify Him. We want the pain to go away. We want to feel better in difficult situations, but God wants us to glorify Him in those circumstances. God always gives us what we need, perhaps sometimes more, but never less.
[from Transforming Grace, Jerry Bridges]
I know that I have struggled with many of my own weaknesses in the past instead of delighting in them. It’s a hard thing to do—delight in rather than struggle through. But I’ve truly been able to look back, relate, and hold on to the statement “when I am weak, then I am strong.” Truly, God’s grace is sufficient; for all my needs.