Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
I have not yet met the person who enjoys going through a difficult time or looks forward to experiencing pain. Sometimes, on rare occasions, there is that certain someone who seems to take life’s challenges a little differently than the average person. It seems they battle one thing after another without the slightest hint of anger, self-pity, or depression, and in fact, seem to lift those around them with a sort of spiritual sustainability!
This two-year battle with COVID, including the new variant Omicron, has touched nearly every family in one way or another. We may never know this side of heaven the how and why behind this terrible plague, but we do know who sustains and strengthens us through it all, and that is Jesus! He will never leave us or forsake us; He is always for us and never against us!
I must confess, physical pain brings out the worst in me. This is most true when I cannot see the greater purpose behind the pain. When pain bears down into my flesh with tormenting teeth, the constant annoyance and irritation, sends words never said to the brink of utterance. It was different when giving birth to my children; the miracle of my children’s birth left the horrible pain a necessary element to something most beautiful.
More recently, I had to have some dental work and bone grafting done, and for those inexperienced, it is not a pleasantry! This was my second time around on these teeth, and while I prayed for healing, God allowed the procedure to move forward. Sometimes God allows us to experience something painful for His greater purposes, disciplining our flesh. It can be part of our maturation as believers.
Even though God allowed the procedure to move forward, I was not disappointed by God. He is always there carrying me when I am too weak to stand. He is right there for you too; He sees you and is waiting for you to call on Him. He knows what’s going on with you. I still believe God heals and miracles are an everyday occurrence. I have experienced physical, spiritual, and emotional healing many times in my life.
So, just because God did not heal my teeth does not mean I have given up on trusting him in the future. God is God and he is always good. Most assuredly, He can be nothing less than good!
The Apostle Paul played a pivotal role in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. He is someone who endured a lot of physical pain in his life. He was shipwrecked, snake bit, stoned and left for dead, beaten with rods, whips, and jailed many times. Yet he sang through his suffering, leading the prison warden and his family to Jesus.
One huge bonus for Paul was to experience the unimaginable, when he was given visions and revelation from the Lord. Can you imagine being ushered into the throne room of heaven and shown amazing revelation of God? Then God told Paul to keep this experience to himself. God trusted Paul, and in turn, Paul trusted God!
Paul is the same person who was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. His pain had a greater purpose, to carry the good news of Jesus to the world and stay humble while doing it.
Paul is the same person who after healing a man with crippled feet was thought to be a god and the people began worshiping him. Paul declared he was just a man and they should worship God. But instead some Jews stoned him, dragged him out of town, and left him for dead. Talk about a holy tenacity, Paul rose from the rocks, and walked sixty miles to Derbe to share the gospel with others.
Paul is the same person who addresses anxiety in Philippians 4:6-7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
He addresses our mindset and what to do about our thoughts in Philippians 4:8, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
This same Apostle encouraged new believers not to be controlled by their circumstances writing from prison, “For I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11.
Paul’s encounter with Jesus was life changing, a radical transformation. From that moment everything in his life was geared towards leading others to Christ. As we have learned, this did not free him from earthly pain, and yet, he died to self-daily. Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
Stop banging your head against the rocks in this world, be in pursuit of a fierce faith. Don’t you want to be that person who can call on the strength of the Lord and sing through your suffering? How you ask? Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”