Contentment and thankfulness… Argh!

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.
Raised in His power the weak become strong.
His strength IS perfect.

Reading today in 2 Corinthians 12 and meditating on Paul’s words again. “He said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you, because power is made perfect in weakness.’ So I’ll gladly spend my time bragging about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power can rest on me. Therefore, I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassment, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ, because when I’m weak, then I’m strong.”

Paul said “I’m all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassment and stressful situations”. Seriously? As I’ve been pondering this, I remember that he also said in Philippians 4 that he had learned contentment in every circumstance. As I connected the two, I realized that the reason Paul had learned to be content whether he was poor or rich, hungry or fed was because his life was always about Christ glorified. He even said he would BRAG about his weakness because it made Christ look better. I’ve heard lots of pastors/teachers brag on God for what He has done in or through them. You know, like lots of people being saved, money coming when they needed it, etc. But I don’t often hear someone really boasting about their struggles/weaknesses in hopes that God will get the glory.
The reality is that Paul was learning to always be alright! Grrrr! 🙂

Brent and I have an ongoing, and somewhat friendly, debate about the verse that says we are to give God thanks FOR everything. (1 Thess 5:18, Eph 5:20) Now I realize that some translations say IN and some say FOR. I’ve always liked the word “in” better. Just sayin’. There is something about me that can find a way to thank God even in the midst of hard times for the things I see that are good. But to actually thank Him FOR the hard times. It just goes against everything in me to be authentically thankful for (what I consider) bad things.
But as I’ve been thinking about this again today in light of this passage in 2 Corinthians, I am feeling that I should take this debate up with God rather than Brent! 🙂 I can’t seem to get around that God wants us to be thankful in AND for everything. I mean, isn’t that what Paul is really saying? Isn’t he thankful FOR his weakness? In the NIV it describes what he means about weakness – “insults, hardships, persecutions, difficulties.” I love how the Common English Bible puts it using the words “stressful situations.” He said “I will boast all the more gladly . . . ” That sounds thankful to me.

So I’m praying today to keep working out my salvation in this area of my life. Someday, with God’s help, I am going to be truly thankful for even the stressful situations in my life. Why? Because it’s all for Christ’s sake!

LORD, I am a spiritual wimp when it comes to being thankful FOR everything. I know it reveals a lack of trust on my part. BUT, when I can’t do it You are able. You are glorified in my stressful situations when I say “thank You” and mean it. When I am insulted/harassed, I can be thankful . . .  when I depend on You. Even as I type this, I know how far I am from this being a consistent reality in my life. Thanks that I can depend on You to even help me to depend on You. 😉

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