Why is it so hard for us Christians to accept both? We freely reach out our hands to God to accept the many blessings He bestows upon us, but let the first storm hit and we’re always quick to cry out, “Why me God!” or “How could God let this happen to me?” How is it that we can receive the good and not the bad? Well that’s the exact question Job asked his wife during his many trials in response to her comment of “Curse God and die”. Job 2:10, “He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Picture it, this is Job, the man after whom we all look to as an example when facing various trials and tribulations. In the midst of his great storm, perhaps the most fierce of all time, he responds with how can we accept blessings and not adversity. What power and truth in that passage. Actually what a wake-up call to us Christians who have become spoiled expecting only good, when truthfully what we need is adversity. Because the adversities in our lives mold us and help strengthen us, faith-builders if you will. Are you most likely to trust God when things are going great, when you may not feel like you need Him as much? Or are you more likely to trust Him when the waves are crashing all around and you feel like hope is lost, then you refocus your eyes on Him.
The apostle Paul speaks on this very point in his second epistle to the church at Corinth. He begins our passage with a sarcastic tone directed toward those false apostles of the church, but leads into a description of adversity and trials that is nearly breathtaking. We begin in II Corinthians 11:23 NKJV, “Are they ministers of Christ?-I speak as a fool-I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.” Here Paul is just beginning his description of what he’s faced all for his passion of sharing Jesus Christ with people. He labors more, been beaten more, imprisoned more, faced death more. But he continues:
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. II Corinthians 11:24-30
If I will boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. All that he faced and he was still willing to boast that he had faced each and every trial because it glorified the Lord. It magnified the power of God in his life and in his ministry. With each trial, each brutal beating (even stoning), each shipwreck he became stronger, increased his faith in God. But with all this God still sent him a “thorn” in his flesh that he might not boast of the things which God had allowed him to see. After pleading with God three times to remove it God told him, “”My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9 NKJV God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, because it shows just how much we need him. It shows how little we can do on our own and how reliant we must be on the strength of God. Paul continues on in verse 9 leading to one of my favorite verses, “Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” For when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ Jesus.
Too often we think of adversity, trials, or tragedy’s as curses when in fact if we change our perspective from one of selfishness to one of focus on God as our center, then we can see that these too our blessings because of how they strengthen us. Just as I alluded to in TRIAL BY FIRE, in nature fire is capable of bringing growth, so too is it capable of bringing growth in our life through the strength of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Whatever you’re facing in life Christian, God knows what you’re going through. He knows your pains, your fears, your trials and tribulations. But He also uses those to bring our focus back to Him, I’m testament to that. It’s not within us to rejoice and welcome actual pain, but we can rejoice in the power of Christ that is revealed through us during these times and know that through it all God’s grace is sufficient.