Count it All Joy
Updated: Aug 22
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 12:9-10
His Grace Transforms Me
God’s grace is enough. It’s more than enough. It’s abundant. See, I will never understand the true power of it, unless I embrace my suffering and allow God to freely pour out His grace on me. When I do that, I will experience a joy that’s completely detached from my circumstances, and I will feel a peace in my heart that knows no explanation. I will be content regardless of whatever is happening around me. That’s because God’s grace is a supernatural energy that transforms me, starting from the inside out. His grace is not just a one-time gift on a special occasion. His grace is always available to me. It is a supernatural energy that completely changes me, how I see myself, and how I view my circumstances in this life. His grace alters my entire perspective, helps me develop an eternal perspective, and solidifies the Truth even more into my mind and heart. It’s the gift of God’s grace that helps me turn away from my own strength and self-sufficiency and turn to God. It’s His grace that makes me worship and praise Him.
God created me to have a relationship with Him. God wants me to worship Him, and I can't fully worship Him if I haven't suffered or known the loss of anyone or anything. It's in these exact places where I am able to experience His grace. Those who worship God most intensely are those who have sunk into the deepest waters and gone through the hottest fires. Every burden in my life is to point me to the One who will take that burden from me. If there is no burden, what will make me cry out to God? Trials exist so that I run to Him, rely on Him, and rest in Him. My problems will come and go in this life, but I will need my Lord for all eternity. Whatever it takes in this life to make me run to Him and trust in Him, is a blessing in disguise. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a]for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
His Power is Perfected in My Weakness
Not only does God use suffering to draw me closer to Him in deeper intimacy, but He uses my suffering to perfect His power. And His perfected power only begins at the end of myself. Humility is needed in order to manifest the power of God. The Lord not only wants me humble, but He wants me to be powerful too, by Him and Him only. Second Corinthians 12:9 says, "For my power is made perfect in weakness." Not only does God want me to go through trials so that He can put His grace on display, but He wants me to go through them so that I have nothing left of me. God wants me to no longer peer inside myself to find anything reliable. He wants to bring me to the point where I have no confidence, sufficiency, or trust in myself, in the sense that I think I am capable of anything eternal or powerful on my own. He wants to diminish me down to nothing so that He can work in me. He wants me emptied of myself so that I have all the room for His power to flow through me. He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30). Through trials and suffering comes humility, and through humility is where God’s power is most impressive, which helps me to victoriously live out His purposes for me. I must give up all hope in self, become an empty vessel, and trust in God’s grace to work through me. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Suffering Crushes My Pride
It's suffering that obliterates my pride and self-confidence and diffuses my sense of worthiness where I no longer think I deserve anything. When I get to that place where I have lost all human ability to deal with my human suffering, I have nowhere else to turn. When I come to the end of myself where I realize I am weak and can’t fix anything on my own, that’s where I stand empty-handed before God and lift up my eyes to Him. This is the exact place in which I become of great use to Him. He wants me in the position where He is able to pour out His grace on me and perfect His power through me, so that I may carry out His plan and so fulfill my God-given purpose...giving Him all the glory! God’s grace is sufficient, and His grace works most efficiently and powerfully in vessels that are empty of themselves. I not only will find sufficient grace to endure my trials, but I will find that when I am finally decreased down to nothing, it’s only then and there that I become truly powerful for His kingdom and His purposes. When my own wisdom runs out, when my confidence runs out, when my self-esteem runs out, when my own resourcefulness runs out, when my own solutions to my problems run out, when I have nowhere else to run, this is the exact position in which I become most useful and effective for the glory of God.
God Chooses the Weak to Shame the Wise
First Corinthians 1:27-31 says, But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
See, God loves to work through the ones who the world thinks nothing of. God loves to choose the ones who the world so easily dismisses, misunderstands, marginalizes, and looks down upon. And when God works through the nobodies in the world, the unimpressive, the overlooked, the weak ones, that is when He gets all the glory. And that’s exactly what He deserves and the very purpose for why He created me. My life's main purpose is to live all for the glory of God, for this is His story, not mine. But praise the Lord Jesus Christ, by His grace, He chose me before the foundation of the world to be part of His story. How could I ever glory in myself and not glory in my great Lord and Savior? He saved me from my sins and rescued me from the eternal wrath to come. All glory belongs to Him, and eternity won't be long enough to give Him the praise that He deserves for giving me what I never deserved - eternal life.
Self-Confidence Versus Christ-Confidence
Paul said in First Corinthians 2:1-5 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul had no confidence in himself. He didn’t waltz in there with the message of the gospel thinking he was some eloquently spoken man who everyone was going to flock to and automatically receive. No, Paul came in weakness and in fear and much trembling. And the thing is, Paul had tremendous things to boast about. He had a sudden and dramatic conversion after having visions of Christ and a real trip to heaven and back, in which he never spoke of. See, Paul only spoke of his own weaknesses. He knew that when he was no longer able to do anything on his own, that was when God was able to do everything. After Paul understood that God's answer to fixing the thorn in his flesh was a definitive "No," he finally came to realize the purpose of his suffering. He understood that to become truly powerful he first had to become weak so that the power of God could flow through him with a power so great that it could not be humanly explained.
You see, physical suffering, psychological anguish, confusion, disappointment, failure, and dissatisfaction are all things that produce a lot of pressure that manifests a lot of power. God's power became evident when Paul became nothing but a clear channel through which His power could flow. Paul finally came to the point where he said, “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 calamites. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul's circumstances hadn’t changed, but what had changed was his view of his circumstances and an eternal perspective of his sufferings. They were to make him powerful and effective in sharing the gospel, and they were all for the sake of Christ; all for the glory of God. Paul said that he’d rather boast about his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in him, rather than boast in his own strength and merit, which was only futile.
For When I am Weak, I am Strong
I love the grace, intimacy, and power of God because I understand what it produces through my trials and sufferings. So, if I’m going to ever boast, I’m going to boast in my weaknesses, and I'm going to boast in the great power of my Lord working through me. When we look at Paul in Scripture, no one was able to humanly or logically explain his life. No one could explain his effectiveness in sharing the gospel and his apostleship through all his beatings, persecutions, and prisons. No one was able to explain his ministry except for the fact that he was weak and God was strong. His weakness wasn’t self-induced. It was a God-given weakness so that God could make him useful and purposeful and let His power radiate through him. This is why for the sake of Christ, we are blessed through our weaknesses. God's grace shines brighter in those who are weaker and needier of His grace. A "great man of God" is not someone who is "more godly" than someone else, but someone who knows he is super needy and utterly dependent on God's grace to live out each day for Christ. Paul was needy, and he knew it. And that's what made him so instrumental in the kingdom of God. Paul’s own strength had been literally crushed down to nothing by God so that he could rise up and be powerful in Christ alone.
So, when I have trials in life and I go through deep waters, when I get bombarded by constant spiritual warfare of Satan coming through people to try to take me down, when I have times of unfulfilled relationships, when my loved ones don't understand me, when people look at me as if I’m an alien, a weirdo, or taking Jesus "too seriously," when I'm persecuted or insulted for the name of Christ, when my heart aches from the pain of all the lost and deceived souls, when I have unsatisfied desires, and when I suffer from those who should love me the most, I must always remember that God is at work in me. I must remember that God is drawing me closer to Him, strengthening me by His grace, and making me a powerful vessel.
The Christian Life - Suffering and Grace
I must remember that His plan is always a good plan and that He works all things together for good for those who love Him. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). He has tremendous and glorious purposes in my trials and suffering. I must always trust Him in my trials, and I must never turn elsewhere to cope with them, for those ways will only lead me into deeper despair and further trouble, into the snares of the devil.
I must always run to God when facing any and every trial that comes my way, and I must never be surprised at the fiery attacks, for this is the Christian life. Suffering is Christianity 101. And so is grace. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13). God uses all these things to reveal my true spiritual character and condition, to humble me, to draw me to Himself, to put His magnificent grace on display, to strengthen me and make me powerful, to make me boast in the Lord, and to let the light of the glory of God shine through me in the face of Jesus Christ for all to see.
The dominant theme of the Christian life is suffering and grace, and now I finally understand that as I have asked for wisdom of what it means to truly suffer for the sake of Christ and for the gospel. And God has generously given me wisdom through His Word and through the fire, by His grace. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, difficulties, insults, and persecutions. I am satisfied. I am at peace. And I want to make this clear that Paul is not talking about the distresses and weaknesses that come as a result of our own sin and disobedience to the Word of God. No, Paul is talking about those distresses and weaknesses that come into our life for the sake of Christ; for the sake of bearing the name of Christ, for boldly sharing the gospel, and for standing up for the Truth of God's Word, all for the glory of God.
I have counted the costs of being a true Christian, and I know I will inevitably suffer for Christ and the gospel, for He commands all His true disciples to not only believe in Him but suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). Those are the inescapable effects of true saving faith in Christ and the costs of eternal life by grace through faith. Bearing the name of Christ and sharing the gospel puts a serious target on my back in the spiritual realm, for I am a physical being living in a spiritual world, not the other way around. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). Satan and his demons have quickly caught wind of me since being born again in 2020. It's evident that they absolutely hate me, and I am already seeing the trials and suffering come up from boldly sharing God’s Word – whether that’s through sending evil people into my life to steal, kill, and destroy, (John 10:10), by discouraging me, by condemning me, by confusing me, by playing on my weaknesses, by sending ailments on me, or by making me feel like I am all alone in this Christian life, when I know I am not. The more I conform myself to the Word of God, the less I am conformed to this world, and the more of an alien I become to the world. For that is God's ultimate goal in my sanctification process and Christianity 101 - to wean me off the world and grow me in holiness to become more like Christ every single day. And so that I may never miss a golden opportunity to share the gospel with a soul who needs Jesus.
Finally, Be Strong in the Lord
The Christian life is a daily battle, and I must take up the whole armor of God, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might so that I may stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10). These types of various trials and sufferings I am talking about are undeserved, and they are not connected to our sins and disobedience to the Word of God. This is the cornerstone of Christian living, and it is my very own perspective on trials and suffering that is the main issue when I don’t suffer well; when I complain; when I turn to places other than Christ for comfort and answers; when I say “Why me?”, when I begin to ever feel I deserve more than what I’ve already been given – which is the ultimate gift, and that is the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, all by the grace of God. The grace of all graces.
Running all over the place and looking to the world to fix my problems and suffering is not the answer. Neither is self the answer because if self is the problem, self cannot also be the answer. The answer must be somewhere outside of me. The answer must be a lot bigger than me. Being obedient to the Word of God and letting Jesus Christ do the perfecting work in my life by humbling me and displaying His power through me - that’s the only answer. For He is life itself. May I count it all joy when facing trials of various kinds because I know the testing of faith develops perseverance (James 1:2-3); Perseverance to run the race all the way until the end, to fight the good fight for the sake of Christ. Until one day, eternal joy, peace, and rest meet me at heaven's gate and officially welcome me into the eternal kingdom of God, where I enter the glorious presence of Christ for all eternity. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
Repent of your sins, turn from your ways and your own self-sufficiency, ask God to crush out your own pride and be humbled, and turn to the light of the gospel. And it's at the cross on Calvary that we look to the only One who can save us from ourselves. He is our only hope, our blessed hope...and that's Jesus Christ, our great God and Savior, the only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. To Him be the glory forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.....
Lord, help me to suffer well for the sake of Christ. Thank you for Your divine wisdom on this. I finally get it now. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. James 1:5
PS. To read part one of this devotion, check out: The Purpose of Trials and Suffering
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15-20
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:2-5
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Jesus said, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Luke 13:3