Can we benefit from adversity? I want to answer this question through a passage of scripture in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10… 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 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. In the this passage of scripture we don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh really was, because he doesn’t tell us. Some have suggested that it was malaria, epilepsy, or a disease of the eyes. Whatever the case, it was a chronic and debilitating problem, which at times kept him from working. This thorn was a hindrance to his ministry, and he prayed for its removal, but God refused. Paul was a very self-sufficient person, so this thorn must have been difficult for him. It kept Paul humble, reminded him of his need for constant contact with God, and benefited those around him as they saw God at work in his life. Although God did not remove Paul’s physical affliction, he promised to demonstrate his power in Paul. The fact that God’s power is displayed in weak people should give us courage. Though we recognize our limitations, we will not congratulate ourselves and rest at that. Instead, we will turn to God to seek pathways for effectiveness. We must rely on God for our effectiveness rather than simply on our own energy, effort, or talent. Our weakness not only helps develop Christian character, it also deepens our worship, because in admitting our weakness we affirm God’s strength. When we are strong in abilities or resources, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own, and that can lead to pride. When we are weak, allowing God to fill us with his power, then we are stronger that we could ever be on our own. God does not intend for us to seek to be weak, passive, or ineffective, life provides enough hindrances and setbacks without us creating them. When those obstacles come, we must depend on God. Only God’s power will make us effective for God and will help us do work that has lasting value.
Adversity can a tool God uses to call people to discipleship. Think about Paul the Apostle before he became an apostle on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:3-19… 3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.[a] It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”
Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. 8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. 10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him, the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.”
And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”
11 So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus,[b] who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. 19 So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Damascus a key commercial city was located about 175 miles northeast of Jerusalem in the Roman province of Syria. Several trade routes linked Damascus to others cities throughout the Roman world. Saul may have that by stamping out Christianity in Damascus, he could prevent its spread to other areas. Saul thought he was pursuing heretics (those teaching non-Jewish laws), but he was persecuting Jesus himself. Anyone persecutes believers today is also guilty of persecuting Jesus, because believers are the body of Christ on earth. Saul was led away from this experience blind to go into the city of Damascus. God told Saul to go into Damascus where he will be instructed as to what he must do. The Lord then spoke a Christian disciple name Ananias telling him to go the house of Judas where Saul of Tarsus was praying and he was to baptism Saul that he may receive his sight. Ananias knew of Saul saying “Not him, Lord that’s impossible. Saul could never become a Christian!” In essence, that’s what Ananias said when God told him of Saul’s conversion. After all, Saul had pursued believers to their death. Despite these understandable feelings. Ananias obeyed God and ministered to Saul. We must not limit God- God can do anything. We must obey and follow and follow God’s leading even when he leads us to difficult people and places. Faith in Christ brings great blessing but often great suffering too. Paul would suffer for his faith. God calls us to commitment, not to comfort. He promises to be with us through suffering and hardship, not to spare us from them. Ananias found Saul, as he had been instructed and greeted him as ‘Brother Saul’. Ananias feared this meeting because Saul had come to Damascus to capture the believers and take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. But in obedience to the Holy Spirit, Ananias greeted Saul lovingly. It is not always easy to show love to others, especially when we are afraid of them or doubt their motives. Nevertheless, we must follow Jesus command and Ananias’s example, showing loving acceptance to other believers. Although there is no mention of a special filing on the Holy Spirit for Saul, his changed life and subsequent accomplishments bear strong witness to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in his life. Evidently, the Holy Spirit filled Saul when he receive his sight and was baptized. Through this adversity placed on Saul now known as Paul the Apostle we today nearly half of the New Testament. Always remember that God always has a master plan for each of us when God allows adversity to enter our lives. I have submitted a video related to this article. Enjoy the gospel video. Always remember, ‘Keep the Faith and God Loves You and So Do I’.
What do you think? Your comments are always welcome!!!
Written By Kofi Baruti