The Bible gives us a number of reasons why Christians suffer adversity. One reason is to strengthen and mature us. Another is that it is the natural consequence of our own foolishness from which God does not necessarily protect us. And another reason Paul gives us in today's chapter is to keep us humble. If things always went well for us, if life was always "coming up roses," we would tend to become conceited, to think more highly of ourselves than we ought and perhaps think less of others. Notice that Paul only prayed three times for the removal of his "thorn in the flesh" (vv. 7-8). When it was clear that God was not going to remove it, Paul accepted it.
Because the Lord always has a reason for allowing adversity, we can praise Him for all things:
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts,
And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness,
And shall sing of Your righteousness.
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,
Slow to anger and great in mercy.
The Lord is good to all,
And His tender mercies are over all His works.
Pause for praise and thanksgiving.
Pray this confession to the Lord as you seek to keep your life free from sin and in fellowship with Him:
Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:4-5)
Confess any sins that the Holy Spirit brings to your mind, and pray this affirmation to the Lord:
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
As you make your requests known to the Lord, include:
- Patience in difficult circumstances
- The work of missions in South America
- Whatever else is on your heart
Finally, close with this prayer to the Lord:
Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)