March 23, 2018
READ: 2 Cor. 11:16–12:10
My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (12:9).
I know a leader who learned sympathy when he lost his job. He admitted it’s easier to humbly love when life has knocked you down. When, as he would say, “You’ve got blood in your mouth.” I also know a pastor whose heart was softened by the death of his son. This pastor wouldn’t say it was worth it—and he’d be right—but his grief has made him a more compassionate shepherd.
Being broken is a reality of living in a fallen world where suffering persists. As God walks with us through the deeply painful times of life, He alone can provide the comfort and perspective we need.
Reflecting on his ministry, Paul emphasised the value of brokenness. Comparing himself to other leaders challenging his authority, he began by matching them title for title: “Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? . . . I have served him far more!” (2 Corinthians 11:22-23). But Paul said he surpassed them in the suffering he’d endured. He’d been imprisoned, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, hungry and repeatedly near death (11:23-27). He preferred to celebrate these “weak” moments because they allowed the light of Jesus to shine through (11:30, 12:9-10).
A thick, ornate lampshade draws attention to itself, but a thin, transparent shade acts as an invisible lens for the light. Because Paul longed to point to Jesus, he was glad when trials ‘thinned’ him out so Jesus became more visible.
If our purpose is the same, we too can “boast” about Christ’s power working through our weaknesses. We can experience His joy even in “the insults, hardships, persecutions and troubles that [we] suffer for Christ. For when [we are] weak, then [we are] strong” (12:9-10).
365-day plan: 1 Samuel 9:1-21
Read Isaiah 53:3-6 and list the various ways Jesus suffered for you. How does His suffering give meaning to your pain?
What is causing you pain? Without minimising your suffering, how might your hardship be used to lead others to Jesus?