That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses.
Thoughts for Today:George Matheson (1842-1906) was a well-known minister and hymn writer. He described one hymn, "O Love that Will Not Let Me Go," as his finest work. He wrote it in five minutes. The words came to him on the eve of his sister's marriage and brought up the hurtful reminder of his own romantic heartbreak. Years before, he too was engaged -- that is until his fiancée learned he was going blind and there was nothing the doctors could do for him. She told him, "I can't go through life betrothed to a blind man." She broke off the engagement, he went blind, and it was his sister who had cared for him over the last several years. But now she would be leaving him as well. It was during this time of intense emotion and future uncertainty that he wrote his most famous hymn.
Matheson went on to a celebrated career as an author, pastor, and hymnist. (In fact, Queen Victoria invited him to preach at Balmoral and had his sermon on Job published.) Before his death, he wrote of his life, work and perceived disability: "My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn [his blindness]. I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but not once for my thorn. I have been looking forward to a world where I shall get compensation for my cross; but I have never thought of my cross as itself a present glory. Teach me the glory of my cross; teach me the value of my thorn. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbows. Alas for him who never sees. The stars shine through the cypress trees."
In our passage today, Paul presents one of the great paradoxes in our walk as Christians. How can we find pleasure in persecution, pain, infirmity and hardship? If it were not "for Christ's sake", there could be no "delight" in any of these things. People like Paul and George Matheson -- who exhibit great patience, joy, and fruitfulness in the midst of suffering -- provide the most powerful testimonies of the truth of the Gospel.
Questions to Ponder:The Psalmist wrote (Psalm 119:71): "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." What are you learning from your afflictions? We all have them from time to time, and from greater degrees to lesser ones. The key to a joyful and fruitful Christian life is how we find "delight" in the pain. Have you grown closer to the Lord during your time of trouble? He is the only One who can show us how, "Our tears have made our rainbows."