September 8 I Thursday
2 Corinthians 1
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’”
—2 Corinthians 12:8-9
We could gather three things from what Paul says in the opening verse of this devotion for when we face times of trials and testings. Firstly, whatever this “thing” was in Paul’s life, it drove him to prayer. When he said, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord,” it was not like he prayed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and then gave up. They were three intentional periods of intercession. Usually, when all is well, our prayer life suffers but when troubles come, our prayer life is often awakened and deepened. To be driven to prayer is already to be humbled and recognize, “God, I need You in this situation.” Whatever we may face, if it drives us to God, it has already become a good thing.
Secondly, we see God’s purpose. God’s response to Paul’s prayer to take the “thing” away is, “No, I know it is painful but there is something else that is bigger that you can only learn this way, and that is My grace is sufficient for you and My power is made perfect, not in your strength but in your weakness.” “Grace” can be defined in all kinds of ways but the grace of God is simply the presence of God, where God is doing what we cannot do and being what we cannot find in ourselves.
Thirdly, the “thing” that hurts us often humbles us. Paul tells us, “I delight in weaknesses” (2 Corinthians 12:10) and repeats this theme as he writes to the church in Corinth: “I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30) and “We are glad whenever we are weak” (2 Corinthians 13:9). Paul’s point about weakness is that it brings us to dependence on God. We can never be too weak, poor or simple for God but we can be too strong, rich and clever for Him as the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah tells us, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
What usually brings us to know God in a deeper way are times when we feel inadequate, weak and defeated because that is what brings us back to a fresh trust, dependence and experience of God operating in and through us. When we approach various trials and testings, may our response resonate with Paul’s prayer, in knowing that God has a purpose for what we are going through and in acknowledging that we are made perfect in weakness.
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for whatever trials and testings I am facing, as You have a purpose for it. Your strength is made perfect in my weakness; guide me in Your ways.