In addition to the teachings of James 1:2-4, there is another scripture I draw upon every time I’m faced with a trial. No matter what is happening to me, what I am up against, what is breaking my heart, or what I am suffering, I turn to the strength offered and assured in 2 Corinthians 12:9. These words of promise are spoken by Christ Himself: “My grace is sufﬁcient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Wow! Who doesn’t need this kind of assurance in a trial? For more than 2,000 years this pledge from God has helped Christians endure everything life and the world can throw at them. The apostle Paul is a great example.
Paul was God’s servant, but the believers in Corinth were questioning his sincerity and authenticity as an apostle. Therefore Paul wrote to defend and prove himself to his opponents. In doing so, he basically said, “Well, there is one really big thing I could brag about if I needed to.” Then Paul described a vision he was allowed to see and hear when he was miraculously “caught up to heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2).
Paul’s glimpse of heaven was indeed glorious, but Paul explains that because he could have been exalted by others and ﬁlled with personal pride due to this supernatural experience, “a thorn in the ﬂesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (verse 7).
We don’t know exactly what Paul’s thorn in the ﬂesh was, but it was probably painful or frustrating. And how did Paul handle this? He did what we would have done—he prayed. He asked God three times to take away the exasperating problem. But God’s way of answering Paul’s prayers was not by removing the pressure. Instead, God increased Paul’s strength to bear it!
And how did Paul’s story of pain and suffering end? He spells out how the Lord spoke words of encouragement to him so he could stay in his hardship and keep on serving Christ and His followers. Paul reports…
And [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufﬁcient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly [Paul concludes] I will rather boast in my inﬁrmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 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 (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
Paul had a problem—a thorn in his ﬂesh. It was a trial. And whatever it was, it hurt or bothered him so much that he referred to it as a literal “stake.” He felt like he was impaled on a sharpened pole. Furthermore, the source of that thorn in his ﬂesh was Satan.
But Paul knew to look on both sides of the coin: He saw one side—Satan’s image—but he also turned the coin of pain and suffering over to see the impression of God, the imprint of the One who permitted the trial… and promised to see him through it until he was glimpsing heaven for eternity.
A Prayer to Pray:
Lord, help me to see through to the other side of the trial and testing that is in my life right now. I pray that I may know that what Satan means for evil, You will work for good.
Discover more encouragement for your soul in Finding God’s Path Through Your Trials by Elizabeth George.