Monday, December 1, 2014

Paul’s Pleasure in Distress: Not a Masochistic Doctrine

9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (1 Cor. 12:9-10)

Pau doesn’t naturally like infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, and distresses, but he has learned how to immediately take refuge in Christ’s grace by calling on God for help. 

He could only say he takes pleasure in those unpleasant situations if he had learned he could always depend on God.  He had gotten to the point when he considered those times he’d been helped as something to enjoy, rather than dreading the hard times as something too much for his natural powers and resources.  Instead, he saw those times as opportunities.

Before we learn to depend on God, we go through life dreading what might happen because we fear running into a situation that would be too much for us, whether temptation or need or persecution or stress or demands from others dependent upon us.

Paul’s statement here, counterintuitive and disturbing as it is, gives us a vision of the kind of trust in God’s enabling power that we can attain in this life, if only we can learn to turn to God.  It is possible we may come to see those times of grace as better than the times we were enough on our own.