44 Question 1

It can be very hard to determine what situations are meant to be, and which situations are not meant to be.  Sometimes, the hardest situations teach us, strengthen us, and work together for good.

Let’s look at the life of the Apostle Paul.  He was such a faithful servant of the Lord.  Let’s look at Philippians 3:4-7 where Paul says, “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.”  Paul had great credentials which would have entitled him to a high position as a Pharisee.  However, he gave up all those things to serve the Lord.  He goes on to say in verse 8, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”  All the things that he gave up in order to serve Christ, he counted as dung, or waste.  He rightfully valued the Lord to be above all that the world had to offer.  In comparison to the Lord, those things were junk.

As one that faithfully served the Lord from the time of his salvation, Paul also suffered greatly in his Christian life.  He wrote of some of those sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 where he said “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.”

On top of all that, Paul was given a thorn in the flesh.  Although we aren’t told what that thorn was, it was of great concern to Paul and he prayed three times, asking the Lord to remove it.  2 Corinthians 12:7-10 says, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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. 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.”  In these sufferings, we see there was two distinct reasons Paul was given this thorn.  First, it was to keep him humble.  Secondly, it was to teach him that the Lord’s grace was all he really needed.  Upon learning these lessons, Paul rejoiced in his infirmities, realizing that through his infirmities, the power of Christ would be evident in his life.

I am so glad that you have endured these negative things in your life.  I encourage you to continue to endure by depending upon the Lord to be your strength.  Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:11, “Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.”  The Lord delivered Paul from those things he had to endure.  One verse that often brings me great comfort is 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  The Lord knows your load limit much better than you do.  He will not allow you to go through anything that you cannot handle.  There are so many lessons we need to learn, and sometimes the Lord uses difficult situations to teach us those lessons.  Instead of asking the Lord to take away the unpleasant things in your life, I suggest that you first ask Him if there is a lesson He is trying to teach you, and ask Him to help you learn the valuable lesson that He has for you.