God’s Power in Times of Pain
Christians do not have to pretend that life feels great all the time.
The apostle Paul certainly didn’t mind admitting to hardship. In fact, Paul’s trials led him to say of his troubles in Asia, “We despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.” Trials and troubles will inevitably come—and, like Paul, we don’t have to act as though everything is always fine.
As we are honest with ourselves and others about our trials, we must also remind ourselves that God has a purpose in our pain. Paul says of his burden that “this was to make us rely not on ourselves.” Isn’t it true that when life is going great, when everything seems rosy, we tend to just cruise along? Then trouble hits, and suddenly we’re forced back to reliance on God. He purposes affliction—illness, loss, difficulty in the workplace, a wayward child—that we might not rely on ourselves but on Him alone.
And what kind of God does Paul say we rely on in our trouble? One “who raises the dead.” In every death—both in the deaths of dreams, hopes, and health in life and then in death itself at the end of life—we can cling to the God who has triumphed over death and will lead us to fullness of life in eternity. It is through the resurrection of Jesus Christ that God delivers us from sin now and frees us to hope in a final deliverance from all suffering and death. As we await our full experience of resurrection hope, God uses our trials and weaknesses to keep us close to Him.
In Jesus’ own life, resurrection power came after crucifixion pain. The same pattern holds for us. It is in dying that we live. It is in weakness that we are strong. It is in emptiness that we are full. It is in self-forgetfulness that we find true security and confidence in God.
When God sovereignly allows affliction to shake up your life, remember that He has designed that very trial for you to draw closer to Him and rely more fully on Him. And as you learn to rely on Him more and more, His strength will shine through your weakness, and you will know true spiritual power, even through the pain.
God of All Comfort
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.1 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
8For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers,2 of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.
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