Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pleasure in Infirmities?

When grace is enough for me something strange happens. Maybe it is because faith is functioning in a momentum. God knows grace is sufficient... when we know it also we share a faith secret that colors our world view in a different way. We see our personal history differently.

"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Cor 12:9-10 KJV

Infirmities (Astheneia - G769) Weakness of the body that create vunerablity
Reproaches (Hybris - G5196) Desire or arrogance that takes pleasure in or disregards the pain it causes others.
Necessities (G318 - Anagke) Limitations imposed by circumstance or by law
Persecutions (G1375 - Diogmos) People are actively out to hurt or destroy you
Distresses (G4730 - Stenochoria) Narrowness. The frustration or pain that comes with not being able to make something important fit.

That is quite a list.

The theology is one thing but to apply this personally is another. Who wants any of these things? The word Paul uses as 'take pleasure' can be translated 'prefer.' Is he a masochist? Does he enjoy pain? No, He sees the dynamic of grace. He sees that reaction, contradiction and inability are not things to be avoided. They are things that God is able to handle without blinking. That they happen at all is proof that grace is functioning.

"And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god." Acts 28:3-6 KJV

Like the viper these things don't kill us. We keep gathering sticks. We keep seeking lost humanity. Although we are cold and wet we go and power is on us.

Let's face it. When we suffer any of those things on that list outside of our call they are maddening. They ignite anger. We quote 'All things work together for good' again and again but it is like throwing pebbles at a mountain.

All those things must be sandwiched between 'Grace is sufficient' and 'For Christ's Sake' in order for us to see them as good and encouraging.

"Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:11-13 ESV

God will fill up what is missing for the work's sake. The Father is giving the Son people and we are part of that gift.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting timely post...I've been meditating all morning on the idea that our High Priest is "...touched with the feelings of our infirmities...". He cries when we cry, he hurts when we hurt. He knows the difficulties of accepting the Father's will, as he sweat drops of blood at the prospect of what was to take place.

    What an amazing God!