Hardships – A Thorn in My Side.
Can Hardships Actually Be “Good” For Us?
How often do you complain of your hardships? Ok…so then let me ask you this, “how often do you rejoice in these same hardships?
Yes, you heard me, REJOICE! You might say, “how can I rejoice when it feels as if though the whole world is falling apart”? Well, the Apostle Paul sure knew how to rejoice in his hardships! And he has definitely been through some. (Even more so than you or I huh? :))
You are invited to my Pity-Party of Hardships!
For the last couple of weeks my friend and I have been on sort of a “complain about your hardships” Marathon. Every time we got together it just seems like we had so much grief, worry and anxiety to share with each other.
You know, we as wives and mothers have many burdens, responsibilities and a lot of them are actually very difficult. There’s always that anxiety & frustration about finances or other more difficult situations that we face throughout our everyday life.
Can Hardships be good for me?
Do you ever feel like you are being punished? We even think that some hardships are meant to harm us. I’ve felt like that so many times…Most of the times I don’t understand why I have to go through this or that. So last night when I got home from talking with my friend once again, I decided to dig into the Word.
Funny how when you seek the Lord, He answers.
I randomly opened the Bible to 2 Corinthians 12:2. The Apostle Paul is boasting about some things but then says
“in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me”.
That thorn can also be Hardships as well as a physical disability, sickness, etc.
We see that even Paul had some kind of “thorn” or a constant nuisance that was given to keep him from becoming conceited (because of all the boasting he did 🙂 ). Now, I don’t think that every hardship is given to us to keep us from being conceited. But isn’t it true that through every hardship, God teaches us something? Maybe He’s keeping me from getting prideful? Maybe He’s teaching me submission, obedience or humbleness?
The Thorn has a purpose:
Looking back at my previous hardships, I know which hardship taught me what. And I know for a fact, that the Lord used each and every one of them to break me, remake me and conform me.
The beauty about that is, if it was easy, I would’t of remembered it or maybe wouldn’t of even learned from it. But because it was hard, it engraves into the mind and heart. And then, later on we can say “Hh yah, I went’ through the same thing you are going through right now friend, and this is what the Lord taught me through it….”
Isn’t that encouraging? To be able to help others after you’ve gone through something impossible?
His Grace is sufficient for me.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 12:8-9
Paul had pleaded with God, not once but three times, to take it away from him. But the Lord just lovingly replied, “No, My Grace is sufficient for you”.
Sometimes He doesn’t make our hardships go away quickly. Why do you suppose that is?
I have learned that in certain situations I go through, because I am so powerless and exhausted I have no other choice but to lean on Christ alone. So why then would He take it away from me? If this hardship is what keeps me coming back to the Lord, keeps me seeking His face, makes me spend time in His word, then yes, this type of hardship is good for me.
His power is made perfect in my weakness! (v. 9)
I keep praying that the Lord would take away a certain problem. But I can say now that that same exact problem I am so trying to get out of, is the exact problem that shows me how feeble and weak I am, and how desperately I need God.
I am stronger when I am weak because when I am weak, I have no choice but to draw strength from the Lord. And who can do the job better if not the Lord?
When I am close to Him, His strength is made known to me.
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (v. 9-10)
So there is a reason to rejoice in our hardships. The Father loves you; He is using these hardships to teach you, to chisel at you, & to conform you to be like His Son Jesus.
You might not see it now, but because He is faithful, this thorn was given to you for a good reason.
And even though I am still afraid to say “Jesus bring the rain!”, and most days I still ask Him to turn it down a notch, I can finally say, like Apostle Paul, “I would rather endure hardships than not“!