Finding Strength in Afflictions

Day 20 (video devotional)

Do you want to experience the power of God in your life? Supernatural strength is available to Christians, and the Bible informs us when we can expect to experience such divine grace in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. Paul the apostle says:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 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. 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 12:8-10

God never commands us to be weak. He teaches us not to be timid or afraid,  ashamed or cowardly, unwilling to step out in bold faith for Christ. Instead, we are exhorted to be strong in God’s mighty power. We are assured that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. To us is given a Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. We have confidence to come before God’s throne of grace by the blood of Christ, and we have courage to stand before all humankind as ambassadors in His name. As Proverbs 28:1 says, “The righteous are as bold as a lion.”

The apostle Paul never backed down from an opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. He declared the way of life to Jewish authorities as well as to leading Greco-Roman philosophers and high-ranking government officials. He constantly sought to persuade all who would listen to repent and believe that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. Paul was by no measure weak in his apostolic ministry. 

Yet, there were certain situations when Paul’s strength failed. There were afflictions that he could not control. There was a “thorn in the flesh” and despite Paul’s persistent requests, God did not remove it. Not only this, but the great apostle was brought low many times by insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. No matter how weak Paul felt in the face of these various afflictions, God assured him that they only paved the path to a greater possibility of power. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Our Lord Himself also endured the weakness of the flesh. He “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). All the way to the cross of our salvation,

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth. – Isaiah 53:7

But the Lamb of God turned out to be the Lion of Judah, and our redemption was won by the Lord who let Himself be crucified in weakness.

When you are under affliction for the sake of Christ, be certain that you can receive God’s perfect power. While you are still waiting for the future breakthrough of an answered prayer, God’s sustaining strength can be your present reality. Do not give in to despair but hear the lifter of your head say to you, “Boast in these weaknesses, my child, because here is where my power is made perfect in you.” 

Therefore, do not be afraid of surrendering your life to the difficulties that attend those who give all for Christ. When you contemplate standing alone as a light for Christ in unwelcoming surroundings, march straight ahead as a soldier of valor into the mocking, the jeering, the disparagement, and the ridicule. No matter what afflictions come to you, none of them can empty the divine stores of eternal fortitude that are yours in Christ Jesus. You will surely experience a power from God that you have never known. His power will be perfected in your weakness.

Almighty God, my Father, in the name of Jesus, give me the strength to endure suffering for the sake of Christ. You are a shield about me, and the lifter of my head. There is nothing too hard for You. You will not leave me or forsake me. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. It is enough for me, O God, that You are with me. There is nothing else I need besides Your presence. If You are for me, who can be against me? 

My Lord, You have made me a promise that I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus, my Lord, who died for me, was raised and intercedes for me right now at this very moment. If Jesus is praying for me, whom I have to fear? If the Father loves me, what have I to dread? If the Spirit lives in me, why should I be afraid?

My Lord, I believe Your promise and thank You that Your Spirit is within me to will and to do according to Your purpose. So I step forward in faith. I choose to put all fear aside. I repent of all unbelief and doubt. I loose myself from the binding spirits that keep me from doing the full will of God. I take captive and abolish from my mind every lie that says I cannot be fully obedient to God. I declare that Your promises are true that You will be with me in the fire, and that the flood will not overwhelm me. Mighty God, let Your power be perfected in my life as I lay down my life for You. 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O God. Purify me from the inside out. I consecrate my mind, body, will and emotions to You. I submit my plans and dreams to Your perfect plans. It is my joy to serve You, My King and Savior.

Let my life bear much fruit for Your glory, My Lord. You are great and greatly to be praised. Let Your name be hallowed in me. Make me a conduit of Your grace. Let me lead many to the paths of life that are only found in the name above all names, Jesus Christ.

My Father, I pray not only for myself, but I pray for all the saints. Let every Christian be willing to suffer afflictions for Christ. Let them be confident in the power of God on their behalf. O God, do not let us hold on to our lives in this life, so that we may not lose them in the next. But give us the grace to die to ourselves, take up our cross daily, renounce all that we have, and deny ourselves. Let us go forward to speak the truth in the face of reproach, insults, shame, mockery, and abuse. 

If Your people are not bold for You, what hope is there for the world? So strengthen all my brothers and sisters. Let us love one another with the love that Jesus showed us. Remove all gossip, malice, bitterness, and division from Your church. And let our light shine forth in the darkness around us so that many are saved. 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

I glorify Your awesome name, O God! How wonderful are You! You are worthy of all the praise, glory, and honor, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! 

Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D.
Vice President of Biblical Theology, Christian Union

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