Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, â€œMy grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.â€ 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NIV)
I read Henryâ€™s Thursday devotion three times so far. Itâ€™s one of those lessons that I really do not want to hear. I really do not want to learn. I would like to find a loophole in it!
I liked school. I still like to learn. I read for knowledge. I read for relaxation. I read to be challenged. I do not, however, like to be tested! I did not like tests in school. They cause stress even when I know the subject matter well. And so the message in Henryâ€™s devotion about â€˜testingâ€™ is not what I wanted to read. I want to find some reason to rebuke the testing! It is causing me worry and stress! This cannot be my loving Heavenly Father who is testing me!!!
After searching, I find myself reading Paulâ€™s words. Not even Paul could â€˜pleadâ€™ and get God to remove his test. Paul says that the thorn was there to keep him from being too prideful. You could say that Paulâ€™s humility was tested! What did Paul learn through this testing? That Godâ€™s grace was sufficient and that his joy, his success, — everything that he really wanted â€“ would come through weakness not his own strength!
I also am meditating on Henryâ€™s reference to Jeremiah. I thought it was a good point that Jeremiah did not grow any visible â€˜fruitâ€™ in his lifetime. However, I suspect God saw a lot of fruit in His son, Jeremiah, as he obediently kept speaking what God gave himâ€¦even when he did not want to say it! (those dead leaves around Jeremiahâ€™s Obedient Fruit are Whining Leaves!) Is it not a â€˜testâ€™ to stay faithful to Godâ€™s call even when you do not see â€˜successâ€™ or â€˜prosperityâ€™? Is the fruit that I sometimes do not see the fact that my relationship with God is growing and maturing? In a test, I can sometimes hear God more clearly because â€“ hello! â€“ I am listening more intently because I want to hear what God has to say! I want to know that I am not alone in the test! The Teacher is still in the room!!!
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christâ€™s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christâ€™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 12:9-10 (NIV, emphasis mine)
I hope that I will continue to grow and get to the place that Paul speaks. I know that God desires that I get there â€“ because He is allowing the insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties!!! In those, I do feel the power of Jesus that gets me through that moment or that day. I just havenâ€™t found the â€˜delightâ€™ of those experiences!
God is the giver of love and peace. He is faithful to our relationship. He is sufficient for whatever may come in all my days.