7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.—2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)Paul was content with the difficulties that he faced because his conscience was clear, and he knew that they were not the result of consequences of his own sins or bad decisions. (The other major example of this is Job.) God used these difficulties to keep Paul humbly dependent on Him and to display His power and grace through Paul’s weaknesses and failures. This is the best scenario! Woe to us if we don’t need God or others to accomplish what we believe God wants us to do for Him.
We must also not discount the possibility that our difficulty in life is due to our own sins and poor decisions. We need to examine our motives and our decisions. Sometimes we need to get the counsel of others who obviously live uprightly. Are we merely facing the consequences of sinful decisions? Do we need to repent? Do we need to make restitution (see Exodus 22 for this principle) for harm done to another? Maybe or maybe not, but in the latter case, our consciences should be clear, and we should experience peace that comes from knowing our life now and eternally is secure in Christ (see John 16:33, Ephesians 1:13-14).
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