Pain? Weakness? Glory? God, really not making sense here. 

Each of us experiences some level of pain throughout our lives, each with a different cause. However, while the causes may be different, the pain feels the same. It hurts and leaves us all asking the same question, “why, God?”

Have you ever grabbed a rose thinking the thorns had been removed? Or go to tackle those pesky weeds taking over your lawn or garden? The result is a pins-and-needles poke followed by a throbbing reminder of your mistake. The throbbing lasts for hours and seems like it will never cease.

Paul. Where do we start with him? A man who experienced such pain in his life from loss of family, persecution, imprisonment, and finally execution. Yet, he remained steadfast in his devotion to God and his task.

In his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul talks about the pain he is going through and past struggles. He describes how pain and weakness were not seldom occurrences of weakness but rather a steady companion. Paul explains the trial he was going through was given to him as a strategy to poke a hole in his ego. Suffering so that God’s work could not be claimed as his own. In essence, his perpetual pain was a gift revealing God’s nature. Pain reveals God’s “together-strength” that transforms our failure into His perfection.

When God seemed inattentive to Paul’s pain, he could have assumed God was either absent or abusive. Instead, he recognized that pain put him in good company.

Think of the last time you questioned God. What were the thorns and weeds like? What were the flowers and garden like after going through the thorns and weeds?

Change the perspective. Instead of removing the trial before you, seek how God’s strength can be revealed.

Goals of the Heart

Goals. They are important to have and a great to achieve. The adventure they take us on provide experiences, good and bad, that define us. Some of our goals are fluid changing to the demands of our life and others remain firm, unchangeable. Remember this today: Jesus is a goal. One that is firm and fluid all at the same time. God’s telling you, “I’m your goal. As you pursue Me, you’re going to fulfill your purpose!” Paul writes, “I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

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Speaking Truth

Read today’s headlines and you might conclude that Christian boldness is a thin disguise for defensiveness, anger, and demeaning behavior. Believers who feel voiceless in their society sometimes respond by becoming adamant “defenders of the faith” in ways that can be destructive. In an age of instant electronic communication, our potential for good or harm has increased exponentially.  In all this disarray we have forgotten how we are to act and who we are to be, Jesus.

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