A friend of ours died a few weeks ago. He was a fellow missionary living here in our area. Actually, we had the privilege of helping his family get established here in Germany. But it really got me thinking about how we react when things don't go the way we planned.
As I was praying for his family (wife and four girls) I was reminded of this verse...
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” - 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT
Many church-goers know that this is in reference to what Paul called, "a thorn in his flesh," something the devil sent to make his life difficult. We're never told exactly what this thorn is, or why he had to deal with it. Some think this refers to a physical problem. I believe it refers to the opposition he experienced in many cities. Either way, things weren't as he would like.
Many times when things don't go the way we planned, we blame God... almost as if He has some sick sense of pleasure in our pain. It can feel as if He's left us all alone, that He just doesn't care. Many people speak of these verses that the Apostle Paul penned as proof that God wants us to suffer through some things.
I see it from a totally different angle. In these verses I don't see a God that is uninterested or that leaves us alone to deal with our pain. Rather, I see a God that gives us a special grace to deal with tough situations.
My friends, He is PRESENT in times of pain, disappointment and frustration (See Psalm 34, especially vs. 18). He is actively involved -- although it may not seem like it. And He provides us what we need to not just survive, but overcome such circumstances.