Can I be ‘real’ for a moment? Livin’ with what’s given’ sometimes really stinks! How does one do it? How do you do it? How do you live with chronic pain, life altering diseases, youth diabetes, broken marriages, low income, natural disasters? Look around our world and you can see people who do it everyday. Some folks live in it with hearts full of hatred, worry lines creasing their brows, bitterness seeping out of every word of their mouths; while some display a peace and a steady calmness beyond comprehension. They have a smile that is genuine and hopeful. They have JOY.
So what’s the difference? And where does one get it?!
Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. He was given a “thorn in the flesh“. There are varied thoughts among scholars as to exactly what this was, but it has “been applied to a variety of trials faced in this life“(The Reformation Study Bible). Regardless of what it was, Paul asked the Lord three times for it to be removed, but God tells him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul continues to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Ah Ha! There’s the answer! Christ gives grace sufficient! Grace is the undeserved favor of God. Also, it is defined as the “power from on high.” In other words: the strength, the ability to endure; something outside ourselves that makes it possible to live in the brokenness of this world with joy and peace. Hope that this is not all there is to the meaning of life. Peace that the Gentle Shepherd, Jesus Christ, carries His children through the calamities and hardships of life. Trusting that even if He doesn’t deliver them out of their current situation, (although sometimes He does), He goes with them through it.
It’s so easy to start counting the bad things going on, especially when they continue to pour out like juice from a jug. But it’s in those moments we must intentionally stop and start looking for the good. And when we are too weak to stop and look, then that’s when He sends someone along. 🙂 A kind word, a thoughtful card, an unexpected visit, the nudge in your spirit. It truly does change your attitude. In just a moment we can get our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances, and onto Jesus.
The sight of a mother bird flitting around looking for worms to feed her babies; the shiny green of a hummingbird’s wing; the laughter of children that comes up from their toes. Sometimes it’s really hard to see the good and the beauty, but we all have things to be thankful for. This way of living isn’t something we’re born with either. It’s an act of the grace of God. It also takes time to cultivate this way of living.
Our Heavenly Father has been gradually teaching our family this through various “thorns”. And we are still a work in progress! But I can honestly say, my heart is quicker to turn to Him and thank Him, than it is to throw the shovel or stomp like a spoiled child throwing a temper tantrum…(which I confess, I’ve literally done). Sometimes our situations don’t change, and we have to live with what’s given. But, God who is rich in mercy, promises to never leave or forsake His children. He promises that His grace will be sufficient in all our weaknesses, and that these “light, momentary afflictions are working in us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”—2 Corinthians 4:17
That makes this REAL life worth living.
For more encouragement for hard times, I recommend Susanna Spurgeon’s: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004USLD3G’ text=’Carillon of Bells Devotional.’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’besidethecreek-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’32949f0e-aa91-11e7-90e4-dd4278e053a0′]