And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9–10 NASB95)
When things are go wrong, that’s when we can be the strongest in Christ. When times are hardest, that’s when the Christian life is the best.
It’s easy to be a Christian when everything is going right. But life is not always easy. When we were serving as missionaries in Russia, people often complained about the suffering in their lives. And they were suffering. Life was very difficult for them. Death, disease and poverty were common.
So one day, I decided to speak on the topic of suffering. I asked them some thought-provoking questions: “When are you closest to the Lord? When everything is fine in your lives? Or, when you are suffering?” You could tell by the look on their faces that they knew in their hearts that suffering drew them closer to the Lord. It’s amazing how many of the complaints stopped after that message. Instead, some began to talk about the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in the midst of their suffering. They began to speak of the peace that God had given them in spite of their problems.
But they also acknowledged that trusting God and resting in Him was a choice that they needed to make. They could either focus on their suffering or focus on the Lord. We can’t look down and look up at the same time. If we are looking down at our problems, we cannot at the same time be looking up to the Lord. We don’t need double-vision glasses. We need to make the choice—look up or look down. Look to Him or focus on our problems.
In these verses, Paul talked about gladly boasting about his weaknesses, and being content with problems. Joy in the midst of our suffering is an option. But we must depend on the power of Christ rather than attempting to resolve things in our own strength. Is it hard? Of course, it is. But it is well worth the effort.
What are you struggling with today? Is the joy of the Lord your strength? How can these verses encourage you to place your trust in the sufficiency of Christ?
Read more about suffering.