In 2 Cor 12:7-14, Paul had been caught up into the third heaven and because he was given the privilege of seeing things no one had seen, his propensity for pride was great.
So, he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. He repeatedly petitioned God to remove it. Like the disciples, when they were battered by the storm, cried out, “Lord, don’t You care that we’re perishing?”, Paul too sought some relief from his circumstances.
Paul’s pleas for deliverance didn’t bring the answer he was hoping for. “No” isn’t always easy to take. But Paul didn’t have the misconception that he new better than God what was best for him. He trusted Him even though it hurt. God’s response to Paul’s prayer was not that He was going to change his circumstances…what God was going to do was change Paul’s perspective.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9a God speaks these reassuring words to Paul…
“My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The Amplified says, “my power is most effective in weakness.”
One word from the Master of the wind changes everything. In verses 9 and 10 Paul perspective is altered and He begins to view his circumstances through the lens of God’s grace. Paul’s pain became a platform of praise when the Lord assured him of His power and His presence.
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God didn’t change Paul’s circumstances, but He did change the way He looked at them.
Funny thing about our circumstances…whether God chooses to change our circumstances, change us in the midst of our circumstances or change the way we view our circumstances…our hearts are always changed when we know God is with us.
We may not always like the circumstances we find ourselves in.
- God may speak peace to the storms in our lives.
- He may speak peace to our hearts in the midst of our storms.
- He may speak peace to our perspective.
We truly may not have a clue what He may choose to do with the difficulties we face. But we do know that HE IS WITH US and that changing everything!
The Bible gives Jesus many names. Jesus means Jehovah is Salvation. Christ means the Messiah…the Anointed One. But the name Emmanuel means GOD WITH US.
God was with Adam and Eve in the Garden as He walked with them in the cool of the day.
He was with the prophets, the patriarchs and His people throughout the Old Testament.
Jesus came to earth as Emmanuel and His very name declares His presence.
And right before Jesus ascended into heave, He told the disciples…Lo, I am with you always.
The Lord may not answer your prayers they way you hope He will… the way you think He should… But He is with you and that’s always enough.
Right now… are you letting His presence be enough for you?