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. 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.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9–10
Why does God allow hardship? Why does God allow illness? Why does God allow tragedy? We can go on and on asking why, but we can’t always answer these questions. Yet listen to what the apostle Paul said as he explains why it was allowed in his life in particular:
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. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. (2 Corinthians 12:7–8)
We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was. Most commentators believe it was some kind of physical disability that he probably acquired after one of his multiple beatings or stonings. Whatever it was, the devil wanted to use it to get Paul down. And it worked. Paul got down on his knees and called on God. The devil wanted to drive Paul away from God, but instead the apostle clung to Him that much tighter.
When we go through suffering and hardship, it can be so difficult at times. I have never had a more difficult time in my life than the past 19 months. Yet the fellowship I have had with God has never been sweeter. I have never been more dependent on Him. There are times I don’t think I can handle it, and then God gives me the strength that I need. And I have learned things that I would not have learned anywhere else. I don’t know the “why” of it all, but I trust God, cling to God, and rely on God.
Are you facing hardship and suffering today? Pour out your heart to God. He is trustworthy.