2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
It’s been a difficult couple of weeks in the Billington household. Not only did Valerie chip her ankle and tear some ligaments, I’ve been dealing with the crud that’s going around and actually had to call in reinforcements this past Sunday (thank you Delmar and Gene!). The crud has now officially taken root in my sinuses, so I’m on an antibiotic once again and hoping for the best.
Unfortunately I’ve had to deal with sinus issues for a long time. For the past 25 years I’ve had trouble breathing, sinus pain, migraine headaches, and various assorted maladies associated with my problem. I’ve seen specialists, had surgery, tried allergy shots, and I currently use a neti pot, aromatherapy, vitamins, and was about to try something entirely new until I saw some pictures of people who have developed argyria! Up next is probably another CT scan and a visit with a new specialist.
Why the litany? Just to whine? No, it’s because of a passage like 2 Cor 12:9. Most of the time I realize that there are people out there that are much worse off than I am, but I still wish my issues would go away. And I don’t have the attitude that Paul expresses here. It’s true that he does ask the Lord to take away his “thorn in the flesh” – that I can understand. But essentially being thankful for the thing that is causing him pain? That’s not so easy. In fact, when you’re in pain (emotional or physical), it can be especially difficult to feel spiritual, or to engage in prayer, study, reflection and praise. Is Paul simply talking about the “God help me” cry that comes to our lips in distress, or is there more to it than that?
I think the key is in understanding what the power of Christ is in this verse. And it’s even more interesting that Christ’s power isn’t felt through healing. It’s felt through acceptance. It’s felt through faith. It’s felt through grace. Grace? Grace in pain? Yes. Grace to accept. Grace to believe. Grace to persevere. Grace to trust. Grace to hope. In a loving God. In a brighter future. In a better world. Something that we would not desire, we would not long for, we would not need, if it weren’t for pain in this world. So, it turns out I can be thankful for my pain, because it causes me not only to lean on God, but also to look forward to a different world and a brighter future.