September 10, 2012
- By Ed Powell
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"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Corinthians 4:17
One of the puzzling dilemmas we face as believers, concerns the afflictions that befall us. Such concerns go back as far as Job. He encountered affliction as few have. Through it all, he had an encounter with God that radically changed his life. It is difficult to understand God's providential ways. We must leave these occasions in His hands and turn our heart with unwavering faith to His care, plan, and purpose in it all. God's ways are unsearchable...but His grace is unfailing!
Paul faced this with his "thorn in the flesh," and asked God three times to remove it, but God refrained from doing so. Instead, God said unto Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul's reply was, "Most gladly therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
You might say, "Well, that was the Apostle Paul. He was a man of great faith and spiritual statue. I can't measure up to such a man as he, and give such a radiant testimony." True, but even Paul with his strong spiritual endowments, asked God three times to remove his affliction. Paul's heart had to "bend unto the will of God" in his affliction "BEFORE" he could claim such a glorious victory over it. It was "IN" this time of affliction that he "learned to lean on God" and to trust Him implicitly. It was "IN" this time of affliction that God molded his life, changed his attitude, and focused his heart "away" from his affliction...and "fixed it on God."
When Paul surrendered his will to God's...his "thorn in the flesh" was the "very means" of his glorying, so the power of Christ would be manifested through him. Had Paul not been submissive to this affliction, and resigned his heart to God's purpose, his whole ministry would not have been under the anointing, blessing, and power of God as it was. He accepted his affliction as God's providential plan, and used it "as a means" to propel the intimacy of his personal relationship with Christ.
Our affliction can be the means of our most important experience of God's dealing with us. In His providential care is the plan and purpose of God, that He wants to perfect through affliction. Our response should be a "yielding unto God" that will give Him free and full access to all He wants to do in our lives.
Annie Johnson Flint expresses so beautifully the grace of God in the words of her poem. She went through intense affliction, but found His grace sufficient through it all. May we experience His all-sufficient grace as she did.
He giveth more grace as the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?row=254&date=2012-09-10
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