Life is full of hardships, frustrations, and pressures. How do we respond? Paul encountered such harassments and cried out to God for relief. He even prayed not once, but three times that “a thorn in the flesh…a messenger of Satan,” would depart from him (2 Corinthians 12:7~8). God did not answer his request because the focus of his prayer was incorrect. Instead God spoke to Paul and changed his perspective,
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 The Message)
Once Paul became clear on the purpose of trials and pressure, his entire thinking changed. Instead of praying for these Satanically-influenced hardships to be removed, he enthusiastically appreciated the gift of letting God’s strength take over. Why? I like the way John Bevere describes this passage in his book Relentless,
Greater resistance requires greater power to overcome, consequently producing a greater victory.
Most Jesus followers are resistant to and unhappy with frustration and pressure. I know from personal experience. We long for ease, comfort, and non-confrontational living. Whenever difficulties come, we complain and bellyache over how hard everything has become. But I am learning that there is a new exciting way to look at the pressures of life—it’s to view them as resistance that leads to greater power and greater victory. Life’s pressures, even those directly from Satan, are honing and maturing me to rejoice over God’s power working through me in greater measure.
In a recent Huffington Post article, world tennis champion, Billy Jean King, writes, “Pressure is a privilege and champions adjust.” I think that’s an apt word for the wholehearted disciple. Paul is saying to hardships, persecutions, difficulties, pain, and adversity, “Bring it on! Bring on the pressure; I will now have to trust in God’s grace and power even more. I will adjust so that God gets an even greater victory through my life.” When life’s pressures come, the wholehearted make the adjustments and win the victory!
On the Road,