Learning The Best Conduct During Trials

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power, is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Paul spoke to the Corinthians (v2-5) about the person (most likely himself) who ascended into the third heaven (the hidden paradise) and what he had heard (and seen?), admitting that human words were inadequate to fully convey the experience. The New Testament gives glimpses of the coming Glory for the purposes of strengthening our faith and developing our holiness (2 Peter 3:10-14, 1 John 3:2, 3). Most likely, Paul was given the glorious revelation (v3) to fortify him for future service and sufferings (Acts 9:16, Romans 8:18). Revelation the New Testament gives is not aimed at satisfying our curiosity (Expositors Bible Commentary) but for strengthening our resolve.

Paul was embarrassed at having to boast of his experience (v1) to the Corinthians because his boasting would not have contributed to the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7) and because he desired to avoid the suggestion that he was in any way a special Christian; as he said, he was “a man in Christ.” Even though the revelation Paul received was an honor (v5), it did not add to his importance; it only served to equip him for service.

How can we learn the best conduct during trials? Paul’s behavior in 2 Corinthians illustrates the following:

1) He asked the Lord for help. His “thorn” was so troubling to him that he “pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away.” We should pray and ask the Lord for all of our needs.

2) Paul received a revelation of God’s majesty which fortified him for service in ministry as well as in suffering. Any revelation you receive whether it is from the Lord or from the Word, consider it essential equipping for ministry and for suffering and not merely as answers to questions or for boasting.

3) The answer to Paul’s prayer did not take the form he expected. The thorn remained, but so did his memory of the divine reply, “He said to me.” Even though the thorn produced distressing weakness at various times in Paul’s life, he would never lack sufficient grace to be a conqueror (Romans 8:35-37). By God’s grace, our acknowledged weaknesses will meet God’s full scope and strength (Ephesians 3:16, Philippians 4:13) so that the power of Christ will rest on us.

4) Paul learned that he would not escape all hardships. Therefore, he resolved to gladly boast about anything that would expose his weakness; enabling Christ’s strength, through him, to be made evident to all. When we come to the same conclusion as Paul and resolve to boast in our weaknesses instead of our strengths, we should most certainly expect Christ’s enabling strength to be made evident through us for God’s glory.

Paul found comfort and delight in the awareness of his weakness because it was balanced by the sense that the might of Christ would dwell in him and around him. The word for “rest” in 2 Corinthians 12 is like the word in John 1:14to dwell as in a tent, and suggests the thought that the strength of Christ was to Paul as the Shechinah cloud of glory encompassing him and protecting him. (Ellicott’s Commentary) Glory to God. Let’s boast in our weaknesses sweet things and expect the strength of God to aid us.

In His grace,

Amanda

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