Philippians 1:19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
There are many things that cause men to despair; Physical Pain, heartache or boredom that comes from the routines of life. Yet through all of that if a man can find a purpose he should be able to handle it. Paul suffered greatly at the hands of his captors and had to deal with the early church which created its own headache. However, he never lost sight of the reason for all the hardship he was facing and it gave him great strength. He too struggled with a thorn in his flesh that gave him chronic troubles and though he begged God for the grace to take it away God chooses not to relent. How frustrating that a man who was given the power to raise the dead and cure all manner of disease couldn’t cure himself. It isn’t that God lacked the power to help him, but God’s will was not that Paul finds alleviation. What did Paul do wrong to deserve such harshness from God? He obviously wasn’t without sin, but he did dedicate his life to the spreading of the gospel and though he was faithful to God, his prayer for comfort went unanswered (in the way Paul wanted it to be at least). We know that this is something that Paul wrestled with because he tells us that three times he asked for relief and all three times God said his grace was sufficient for him. Maybe we are able to understand some of the sufferings in this world and even in our own lives but when the pain goes on too long or it is too severe, then we wonder what he is doing. Many men step back from their faith for a time because the difficulty is too great and the pain caused by unanswered prayer makes talking to God seem pointless. As someone who deals with the chronic pain from a rare form of arthritis, I understand how this feels.
Yet, those whom the Lord has called to him can’t run forever nor can they find rest in anything but God. I wish I had the ability to alleviate suffering in people lives and my own, and maybe through teaching, I can encourage some people to avoid some common mistakes that can lead to pain. But whether you live a faithful life to God, or you are constantly going back and forth between wanting the things of this world and the things of the world to come….. You will have to accept that something’s in life aren’t as you wish them to be. The goal shouldn’t end at accepting our troubles but learning to see that all of the sufferings we face has a divine purpose. When you’re going through trials though you sometimes have trouble seeing that purpose, with just a little bit of faith you can find the strength to continue knowing that God hasn’t stopped loving you and all the pain he allows must first come through his hand of love and mercy. Don’t ever stop asking him to work in your life or to alleviate the pain. Sometimes it isn’t about getting the answer you want but constantly going to the God who has the answers can bring you a great deal peace. Paul found his purpose in the service of the gospel and loving those Christians who caused him so much frustration.
Learning the purpose God has for you can help you through the rough times for if we believe that hardships have meaning then they don’t seem to overwhelm us as much. He knows what he is doing and though I struggle daily to believe that truth it is something that gives me hope and it just takes a little bit of hope and faith to do great things. My friends, it doesn’t matter how long you have forgotten the truth of the gospel nor how far you have wandered away from him…. He will always be there to embrace you, and his anger is but for a moment but his love is forever. The things we pursue in this life seem so important and take so much of our time, but most things we fight hardest to get are simply not worth comparing to what we already have in Christ. I am the worst person to share this message with you and I know it and I confess it but it doesn’t make it less true. I see myself fight so hard and give so much for things that have no real value and if it wasn’t for Christ’s grace I would be so lost. For years I have prayed that the Lord would take this crippling arthritis from me and he has given me much relief in the past year but a day without pain I have not know in 7 and a half year. The truth is that all of you reading this have pain of some sort and my struggle is neither unique nor special. I have handled it poorly at times, but I have learned something that I didn’t before all this…. No matter what happens the Lord doesn’t leave you. He really doesn’t so find your way to him and find your rest in him.
About the Author: I am a Birmingham attorney who has been in private practice for over seven years. I have a general practice, so I get the opportunity to help serve people who find themselves in some very difficult circumstances. My e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope it encourages you. I always love getting thoughtful comments, so please email those to me.