Daily each of us turns to a friend, someone else we know, relative, colleague… and often to someone on the street with a request of some sort. Daily we have so many requests towards the people around us that it is very difficult to keep our requests to God unaffected by this. Naturally, and frankly quite unnoticed our attitude in prayer to God begins to resemble our attitude towards the people whom we ask for a favor, help, or to simply bring us a glass of water. Turning to the people, however, we almost always expect our request to be answered in the particular way we requested it. Such an attitude towards God, on the other hand, would lead even the most hopeful and believing Christian to big disappointments. God isn’t some sort of a wish-delivering machine. Moreover, He would often answer our requests in quite unexpected ways. Let us learn to hear, see and accept God’s answer, for it is always the best we can get!
Apostle Paul has undoubtedly learned the same lesson… and just as we are learning it – not painlessly. It is known that he suffered a lot due to some kind of a health problem. A problem for which we can read more in 2 Corinthians 12. Let us turn our attention to verses 8 and 9:
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (NIV).
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord…” Whether Paul is referring to three particular moments of prayer or this is just a symbolic way of speaking about constant prayer one thing is clear – for Paul this problem was no less important than your problem is for you in this very moment. Apostle Paul does not stop praying, but he also does not close his eyes and heart towards God’s answer, which as it turns out is different from what he is praying for. And God does not take forever to reply (as we often think He does) – apostle Paul received great comfort and joy from God. Today, this answer quoted in verse 9 is many people’s favorite. Unfortunately, in practice very few of us accept it as satisfactory.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s answer is so clear that it is difficult to excuse ourselves with not understanding it well. Still, let us dig deeper into its meaning. Paul’s pain is enormous, not only because of the physical problem, but also because this is a hindrance for the spreading of the Gospel. It is understandable why this is so devastating for him, he is crippled. What is your pain today? Perhaps it is broken relationships which nail you down and paralyze you? Or maybe you’re also affected by a physical problem which sucks out any energy you may have left? Or are you just praying for something not as serious today…? At this very moment God’s answer to Paul is just as valid for you. Do not let your own expectations close your eyes and your heart towards God’s intervention… which will most likely in a different way from what you expect. Most of the time we pray for safety and strength, but in each and every moment we ought to be fully dependent on God and truly believe in His protection. And almost always this means that we must be weak. Otherwise it is way too easy to hope on our own strength and go against God’s will.
God not only answers to our requests beyond our expectations, but His answer is also more than enough. Perhaps it is about time to put your expectations aside and make room for God’s answer? Perhaps it is about time to let God use the difficult circumstances you are in to draw you closer to Himself? God will not leave you alone. Neither will He forget you. God will surely pour His grace upon you and your words will be: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”