It’s a question popular with skeptics: How could a loving God allow [fill in the blank] to happen?

And in doing so God gets blamed for all sorts of evil. All sorts of calamity.

But what if that were actually the truth of the matter?

What if—in His wisdom—God actually allowed difficulty, illness, adversity, and other things into our lives specifically BECAUSE He loves us so much?

It isn’t a thought I like to entertain. 

But the Apostle Paul was willing to. He wrote this:

The extraordinary level of the revelations I’ve received is no reason for anyone to exalt me. For this is why a thorn in my flesh was given to me, the Adversary’s messenger sent to harass me, keeping me from becoming arrogant. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to relieve me of this. But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” 

So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 TPT

In other words, this “thorn in the flesh”—an unnamed physical ailment—was GIVEN to Paul. Like a Christmas morning present.

At least that’s how Paul decided to treat it. Even though it was painful. Even though God refused to relieve him (making it permanent).

Like a Christmas morning present.

Every once in a while, we find people who are stuck in unchangeable, unalterable, circumstances who are able and WILLING to receive their circumstances, their afflictions, their illnesses, their losses, and their disabilities as a gift from the hand of their heavenly Father. 

How do these people maintain extraordinary faith in the middle of it all?

In other words, if you believe God can change your circumstances but CHOOSES NOT TO, you have the option to receive those circumstances from him as a gift with a purpose and a promise: Grace. 

Maybe that sounds absurd. I get it.

But perhaps we simply need a reminder. Perhaps we need to recall that our salvation—and the salvation of the entire world—hung in the balance of a similar decision made by Jesus the night before his crucifixion when He also pleaded with God:

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Luke 22:42 NLT

Today, take a moment to thank Jesus. For trusting God’s plan, and enduring the suffering that went along with that. For the sake of our salvation.

And be willing to take a hard look at whatever suffering you’re currently enduring. I’m sure there’s something. Can it be treated as a gift? As grace?

Even taking a moment to consider whether that could be a possibility?

That’s worship.

–Pastor Steve.