Been hovering over one of those “shadow” verses. You know, the verse right after the one that everybody knows. Verses like John 3:17 . . . Philippians 1:22 . . . Ephesians 2:10. Verses like 2Corinthians 12:10.
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.
(2Corinthians 12:10 ESV)
After the all sufficient grace of verse 9, after the reminder of His power made perfect in our weakness, after boasting all the more gladly in frailty, feebleness, and even failure, I’m a bit stuck on Paul’s “so what” conclusion.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content . . .
Can I go there? Content with my weaknesses, my hardships, my calamities?
Harder question to grapple with if I consider other translations. “I delight” (NIV). “I take pleasure” (NKJV, NLT, CSB). “I am well pleased” (YLT).
Ok. I’m not going to there. We’ll deal with “taking pleasure” or “being delighted” another time. For now, I’m just gonna chew on being content.
Even as I’m writing this, in the background Audrey Assad is singing, “It is well, it is well, with my soul.” Is that what Paul is talking about? Is that the contentment he knew even with his nagging thorn in the flesh? More than just enduring resolve, is that the ability to embrace even the hard stuff because, through it, we experience the presence and power of God? I’m thinkin’ . . .
Content, not because it feels good. Content, not because I know it’s all gonna work itself out and go away. But content, for the sake of Christ.
If my greatest desire is to make Him known, weakness, and hardship, and calamity sets a pretty good stage for that to happen. If my heartfelt purpose is that He must increase and I must decrease, then anything which serves to demonstrate that His grace REALLY IS sufficient has to be a good thing. Something I can be content in. Who knows, maybe even something I can take pleasure in, or delight in (oops . . . said I wasn’t going to go there).
For the sake of Christ. Beyond myself and my comfort and my desires, but given over to Him, His purposes, and faith in His promised determination to complete a work in me which He has started for His own glory. For the sake of Christ.
Not looking for the “secret sauce” of contentment, necessarily. But it seems to me that a “well soul” is probably somewhat dependent on a well-focused desire–that in all things He be made known. If hard times are the platform for that to happen, then I can rest in them.
In my weakness, His strength. In my desert, His fountains. In my struggles, mercies new every morning and a constant reminder His great faithfulness.
And in that, there really is a contentment. (Delight? Pleasure? Might take a bit more to get me fully there).
Because He is God. Because He is good. Because His power really is made known in my weakness.
Thus, I can be content. Really!
Such is the nature of all-sufficient grace. To Him be all-deserving glory!