Wednesday, December 7, 2016

2 Corinthians 11:25-30 -- On Infirmities and Trials

"Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities."
2 Corinthians 11:25-30

Sometimes it kind of seems insane to glory in infirmities.  I mean... why?  Yay, I am suffering and weak?  Yay, I have problems?

And yet, I think that Paul, here, is touching on a lesson that maybe we all need to learn at some point.  Part of faith, and part of growth, are the trials.  In the movie Shadowlands, C.S. Lewis' wife has cancer, and as they are trying to enjoy the good times that are still possible, he doesn't really want to talk about the cancer or the inevitability of death.  And yet, she, with perhaps a refined perspective, tells him that she needs them to be able to talk about it: "the pain then is part of the happiness now."  And isn't it that way with everything in life?  We become who we become *through* the pain.  We are changed by suffering, and refined, and (if we allow it), made better.

Paul went through some serious things, and he could have given up.  Letting go of Christ and the gospel might have made his life easier.  But it would never have made his life *better.*  We become our best selves by experiencing trials, and learning to find the happiness and the hope around us anyway.  Paul learned the lesson that sometimes the worst things that happen to us are God's greatest blessings.  Today, let's consider that lesson in our lives as well.  Let's find God's hand in the challenges we face, and "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15).

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