Trust in times of affliction
Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Once you become a follower of Christ, there is still the tendency to divide problems into two categories. There are problems that you strongly believe require God’s help and problems you think you can handle yourself. From the text, Paul expressed his belief that God allowed him to be afflicted so he will remain trusting God. His critics found this reasoning by Paul as loathsome for they think that his thorn in the flesh was God’s way of expressing his disapproval to the apostle. No doubt that Paul had a strong personality and he was remarkably strong willed. In fact, He spent the first few years of his life after he became a Christian serving God in his own strength. This was evident when he stood up against the angry mobs when he preached the gospel to them relying on his own abilities (see Acts 9:20-23). This was why some of his fellow Christians took him from the scene so he will not be harmed by the angry mobs. “When the believers heard about this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus, his hometown” (Acts 9:30). God has to deal with his lack of submission and trust. And he believed that he was stricken with a thorn in the flesh for that purpose as well (2 Corinthians 12:7). Whatever was this affliction, it humbled him. Though God used him to perform incredible miracles including healing others yet, he realized that God has a different plan for his life. One thing that Paul was sure of was the knowledge that though he was afflicted, God’s grace will always be sufficient to strengthen him. This for Paul was a miracle by itself. Left to his own, he will continue to rely on his strength. Do not let your dependence on your abilities and strength hinder you from trusting God. When going through affliction, trust God’s sufficiency. It is not pleasurable to go through affliction especially when you know that not having it is your ideal situation. Paul asked “the Lord three times to take it away from” him. Do not think that God turned His back on you or withholding his blessing when your prayer is not answered. Just like Paul, when we are going through affliction though we are weakened by the experience but that is the time we experience God’s sustaining grace as we continue to trust Him.
Noel De Guzman