Life for the Apostle Paul was akin to that of great leaders of recent history who have suffered for their faith. Some of these heroes may be world famous; some may only be known within your community or in the confines of your own home. Perhaps even you, in the midst of feeling imprisoned by chronic pain, are a Paul.
I find it hard to imagine strapping on Paul’s Birkenstocks. If I follow Paul’s path, then I am to delight in. . . What? Weakness? Hardships? Persecutions? Difficulties? This sounds less than delightful. It reminds me of Christ’s imperative to, “take up your cross and follow me,” (Matthew 16:24).
Often in my prayers, I exclaim, “Lord, you don’t understand! I can fake it with my friends and sometimes get away with saying, ‘I’m just fine!’ when I’m really not okay. But you know my limits, and yet you want me to do What? And also take delight in my pain?”
I wonder if Paul felt similarly, during the period of his life when three times he pled with God to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” I may not be persecuted and imprisoned for my religious convictions, but I feel betrayed by my own body as chronic pain disrupts and obstructs my life. Taking care of Me has become a fulltime job. And I waste valuable energy fanning the flames of frustration and fear with my, “What if’s. . . ?” and “If only’s.”
God’s response to Paul, and you and me, is, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9). What an intriguing idea-that my weakness can be a venue for God’s grace and greatness. I am willing to struggle with this paradox.
Prayer: Gracious God, help us to trust that your grace is sufficient. May your power be made perfect in our weaknesses.
About the Author:
Linda Elmore Teeple writes passionately about her personal foibles and flub-ups-and God’s gracious response. Happily married to Rex, Linda also enjoys being Mom, “Nina” (grandmother) and an almost-retired family therapist. She loves dogs, nature and dark chocolate. Fibromyalgia, arthritis and multiple spine issues challenge her to seek God in the midst of life’s challenges. You can connect with Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org and http://natureofgrace.blogspot.com/.