Pastor Nick Cleveland
How many of you are asking “Why” right now? Why do I have to do schooling with my kids? Why did I have to be laid off? Why is my family member sick? Why did God even allow the coronavirus to exist? Why?
It’s natural to ask why. It’s part of our human nature. Have you ever stopped to ask “Why” when something is going well? I believe our perspective is to blame. Having the wrong perspective when we ask why can be a major lid in our life.
Now, if you don’t know much about Paul, this guy had a few reasons to ask why. Because of his bold faith, he was insulted, imprisoned, shipwrecked, stoned (not recreational), beaten and left for dead. Paul chose an uncommon perspective. Let’s look at words from the Apostle Paul found in 2 Corinthians 12.
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
What hurts can actually help. Troubles and trials hurt, but they can actually be helpful. “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) Paul says he was given a thorn in the flesh. The literal word is a stake, which gives a graphic picture of the intensity of the pain. It wasn’t a small inconvenience, but a large pain. Paul sees it as an attack from Satan, but allowed by God. Paul says it was used to humble him. Sometimes pain causes us to admit our limits and weaknesses. We think we have power and control, but in reality, we don’t. God has a purpose in our pain, but we must shift our perspective from focusing on our pain to focusing on His purpose.
What could push us away can actually draw us in. We’ve all experienced it. Everything is fine until something happens, like COVID-19. And our response pushes us away from God and people who love us. Fear, anger, doubt, or anxiety set in. What we put into our mind matters. Paul could have pushed away God numerous times, but it wasn’t his perspective. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” (2 Corinthians 12:8) Paul begged God with urgency to change it. Paul cried out to God and he did it repeatedly. He was persistent. And guess what? God answered Paul’s prayer, but not how Paul wanted God to answer it. God didn’t take it away.
We may not receive the answers we want when we pray to God, but as believers, we know God is a loving God who cares for us, comforts us and is always with us. “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) All of our lives have been affected in some aspect due to the virus. Instead of pushing away from God we need to be drawing closer to God.
What makes us weak can actually make us strong. Our access to knowledge is unparalleled in human history. Don’t know something? Google it, watch the news or find it on social media. But while we have knowledge, we seem to be lacking wisdom and understanding. When we face a challenge, we don’t need information we need understanding. God provided Paul with understanding through Jesus’ words to Paul. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10b)
Did you ever realize that at your weakest point you might have the chance to be your strongest? For Christ followers, when we admit our need for God, others finally get to see His power. He is the one who has the power to change circumstances. God demonstrated power over the common enemy we all have – death. If you keep up the appearance that you’ve got it all together and you don’t need any help, then you erase the exact spot where God can demonstrate His power to those around you.
Instead of asking “Why,” what if we choose Paul’s perspective? Let’s shift our perspective and choose to understand that while we may never know “Why” in this life, we know for sure that God has a purpose in our problems and when we are weak then He is strong!
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