June 17 I Thursday
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you…’” —2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Half of the New Testament is credited to the letters that Paul wrote. Of these letters, his second letter to the Corinthians is the most autobiographical of them all as he records his torments, struggles and hardships that he endured. Right from the beginning, Paul shares the troubles, sufferings, distress, pressure, despair and even deadly perils that he experienced. He writes, “For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears...” (2 Corinthians 2:4). Paul continues, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). He elaborates, “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5). If these excerpts are not enough to paint a picture of what Paul went through, he lists his suffering with detail in the rest of chapter 11, including being shipwrecked, flogged and stoned.
Needless to say, Paul went through a lot of adversity as an apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ. But to top it off, Paul tells us, “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me” (2 Corinthians 12:7). What did Paul do? He says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Paul’s solution was the instinctive solution that most of us would take—prayer. The fact that Paul pleaded three times means there were three periods of time that he pleaded for God to take it away.
“Lord, take it away! Take it away!” is a natural response when trouble comes our way. We try to pray our way out of the situation. Yet, what we must realize is that in the predicaments that we face, there is often a deeper agenda, where our troubles become an agent in God’s deeper and richer purpose. Our trouble allows God to meet us in a way He does not when things are going easily. Some of the greatest lessons that we learn, we only learn through struggle.
As Paul was praying, God tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Through everything that Paul endured as an apostle, God used what Paul went through to remind him that His grace is sufficient, even when prayers were not answered in the way that he wanted.
Do we find in whatever circumstances we face today that God’s grace is sufficient for us?
Prayer: Gracious God, when I face hardships and struggles, may I remember that Your grace is sufficient for me. Thank You, God.