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  • Writer's picturePastor Curtis A. May

God's grace is sufficient in our trials

Article for July 7, 2024

2 Corinthians 12:2–4 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Is this Paul’s conversion that he is referring to?  We cannot be sure, but God knows.  This man who Paul is telling us about had heard things that cannot be told to others.  Maybe Paul saw or heard a future that we cannot know about because we might not be able to understand it or conceive it in our human minds.  At least not yet.

This may be Paul’s reflection of his conversion.  In saying this Paul looks at his revelation given to him through Jesus Christ as something not to boast in.  Paul is telling us that because Jesus chose him that he should not boast as if God thought Paul to be better than anyone else.  Rather, Paul is telling us that our boasting, no matter our calling, should always be in Christ Jesus. 

Jesus Christ is our Lord and Jesus Christ is our leader, our example, and the one who calls many for His purpose to save many.  I therefore cannot boast that I am a pastor, and this is why I say, “I’m just a pastor.”  It is to give glory to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Like Paul I am not a favorable person who has lived a godly life.  Paul crucified and imprisoned followers of Jesus Christ among other sins he has under his belt.  I have turned my back on God many times and in many ways and have many sins that haunt me.  But God chose us maybe for that reason.  With a thorn driven in our side God humbles us to spread His gospel.

2 Corinthians 12:5–6 5On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. 6Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.

It is well that we all be like Paul.  Paul knows his sins and their memory are well embedded in Paul’s mind and soul.  I too know all my sins and know I have nothing in myself to boast about.  But like Paul I can boast much in my Lord my God.  For it is my Lord and God that works through me to accomplish that which is needed by Him.

We can get tied up in our successes and even our failures.  We should boast in God for our successes and boast in God in our failures as He uses our failures to mold us to His liking and purpose.  So, we boast in God for all things for He gives us the life to live in success and in failure.

2 Corinthians 12:7 7So to keep me from being too elated by the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated.

Tis Satan who uses our sin against us, not so much our God of grace and mercy.  We are all given a thorn to be used to keep us humbled.  Who among us is without sin?  Who among us can get into heaven on our own accord?  We have one who created us, one who provides for us, and one who gives us the breath of life.  And this one also provides us with a Savior.

I am sure we all wish to be rid of our sinful nature in this life.  For most we want our heaven now, and most do not care how they achieve their heaven.  Rest assured, our heaven is not here in this life, but the joy of looking forward to it is.  We may suffer much in this life, but for the most part, we have no one to blame for our suffering but ourselves.  Just remember the light at the end of the dark tunnel is Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 12:8–9 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

One would not think that part of our maturing is to suffer.  It isn’t that we suffer but what we do with that suffering.  Or maybe it is what God does for us through our suffering.  Always remember God does not put us through our suffering, unless it is to help us grow and mature, God mainly gets us through our suffering, which does help us grow and mature.

This is what Paul sees, though he pleaded with God three times to take this thorn of sinful demon away. Paul realizes that God uses his thorn to mature him in his faith.  And in faith we know now that God’s grace is sufficient.  But not just sufficient, rather a blessing into the life of joy that Jesus has prepared a place for us.

2 Corinthians 12:10 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Not that I will stop trying to defeat my sinful nature, but that I in my weakness have much to boast about my Lord Jesus Christ for His grace and mercy, for His forgiveness and love, and for His suffering and death that gives us believers life everlasting.  Amen.

Written by Pastor Curtis May


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