When I was in high school someone challenged me to read some missionary biographies. I remember as I read about Hudson Taylor, Jim Elliot, and Helen Roseveare and the things that they went through as missionaries that I was stunned by their faith, courage, and perseverance. I was in awe and wondered if I could ever be like them. Yet down deep inside there was always doubt and fear. I was sure that I could never do those kinds of things or be that kind of person. Sometimes I still feel the same way when I read some of what Paul wrote in the New Testament.
2 Corinthians 12.10 "That’s why I take PLEASURE in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (NLT)
Paul, what do you mean you take PLEASURE in weakness, insults, hardship, persecution, and trouble? Are you nuts? Why in the world would you find any pleasure in those things? It makes a lot more sense to try to avoid those things, to do whatever is necessary to steer clear of them rather than to embrace them. The first two words of vs.10 give a hint as to why Paul felt this way. They take us back to the context in the previous verses. Paul had something very serious and perhaps even painful that he was dealing with. So in vs. 8-9 he said "Three different times I begged the Lord to TAKE IT AWAY. Each time HE said, MY grace is all you need. MY power works BEST in weakness..."
So Paul took the hardship that he was facing, that he found extremely difficult to handle, right to God and asked Him to take it away. God's answer was “you need this Paul because MY GRACE is seen most clearly in you when you are WEAKEST and dependent on ME.” At that point Paul tells us “that is WHY I take pleasure in these things. Because when I am weak, when I cannot do this alone, when I am powerless and unable to do the next thing, that is WHEN God's Power is really comes through. That is when God works in my weakness to give me HIS Strength.” So what does Paul do? He embraces and takes pleasure in whatever the hardship or struggle may be. No matter what he is facing he moves forward TRUSTING God to give him the ability keep on going.
PRAYER: Lord God, I confess that I do NOT DELIGHT in hardship, persecution, weakness, or insults. Most of the time I fight against those things. Lord Jesus, please help me to stop trying to do everything I can do to get out from under these things and help me to embrace them instead. Help me to pause and ask for Your for Wisdom, Your Strength and the ability to DELIGHT in You and whatever You bring into my life. Lord I cannot do this without Your Power; please help me.