Recently I've been experiencing some lower back pain where it constantly feels stiff and achy throughout the day and it's hard to get comfortable, sitting or standing.  I don't know if I strained it lifting something, if it's a sign of stress or just old age.  My kids said it coincided with me eating a bunch of fig newton cookies . . . (sigh) not the most sympathetic group huh??  While it hasn't kept me from doing my work (the back pain not the kids), it does make me feel weak at times and I find it can also affect my mood or attitude.  Maybe you can relate?  Whether it's from a physical ailment, a medical condition or emotional stress from all that's going on these days, perhaps you feel weak at times too.  Perhaps being alone, not seeing friends, and the restrictions on what you can do have gotten you down. 

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul talks about a "thorn" in his flesh and "weakness" in his life.  Now that doesn't sound like the Paul we know.  Of the many people in scripture, Paul was probably one of the stronger personalities, willing to take on anything that confronted him in doing God's will and preaching the gospel of Christ.  Yet in 2 Corinthians 12 we see a situation where Paul struggles with this thorn, this pain or annoyance in his life, which makes him feel weak or depressed.  Three times he asks the Lord to take it away.  Although we don't exactly know what the thorn is, whether it's something physical, emotional or spiritual, verses 9-10 read "But He (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  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."          

In this case, God did not remove whatever was ailing Paul.  But He had given him something much greater, His grace.  Grace is God's unmerited favor and blessing to His children.  And He told Paul His grace is sufficient for him in whatever pain and weakness he was going through.  But not only for Paul, God's grace is sufficient for us too . . . and it's constant.  It's not a one-time thing.  One author portrayed this well saying that God's grace to us is like the waves of the ocean repeatedly hitting the shore time after time, wave after wave.  John 1:16 says that “from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”   Paul goes on to say that God's power is perfected in weakness.  When we feel weak and place our dependence on Him, the power of Christ comes upon us.  It is His grace and power that carries us through our physical and emotional trials, not our own strength or resolve.  Then in typical Paul-fashion, he says he delights in weakness, in hardship, in difficulties.  Why?  Because he knows, when we are weak, Christ's power will make us strong.  Beloved, in whatever physical, emotional, or spiritual difficulties you're going through today, I pray that you would know God's amazing grace and that His power would be perfected in your life.

Take care,

Pastor Darren