Why Paul’s Prayer Was Not Answered?
The apostle Paul prayed for something. He wrote. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 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” (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).
Paul appealed for deliverance from his infirmity on the basis that it was a hindrance to his ministry. God has never promised to alter circumstances or release men from trouble. Though his prayer did not bring the apostle release from his affliction, it did provide him with grace to endure it. Christ more than meets the needs of His children with an abundant provision of grace.
To the believers, bodily infirmities and difficult circumstances should be matters of secondary concern. Inward strength to endure is a far higher manifestation of the divine grace than mastery of the outward hardships of life. Outwardly a man may be torn, worn, wearied, and almost broken, yet inwardly it is his privilege—in Christ—to enjoy perfect peace.
The peace of the believer depends not upon peaceful circumstances in the world around him but upon the filling of the Holy Spirit in his heart (Matthew 11:28–30; John 14:27). The Word of God affirms, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in Yah, the Lord, is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3, 4).
Real strength of character grows out of weakness, which, in distrust of self, is surrendered to the will of God. A man strong in his own strength is self-reliant instead of relying on God, and often does not realize his need of divine grace. The great heroes of the Bible learned the same lesson, men such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Daniel. Only those, whose weakness and insecurity have been completely submerged in the blessed will of God, know what it is to possess true power.
Strength in Weakness
Therefore, Paul declared I will glory in my infirmities or “boast in weaknesses.” It is the mark of triumph to accept one’s limitations without resentment. To rejoice over that which one hates and desires to be rid of is the ultimate of surrender. Christ also shrank from the indignity, shame, and ridicule He was called upon to endure at His trial, yet He yielded to the will of God. Such resignation to the will of God means complete renunciation of self.
Paul wrote, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:3–5).
Like the apostle, the genuine minister of God will be constantly aware of his own weaknesses. Such an attitude helps him to place greater faith upon the Lord for power and wisdom to do His work. Thus, man’s greatest strength is gained when he acknowledges his weakness.
God knows what is best for us in the long run, even if it may conflict with our short-term wants and desires. The apostle taught that we should be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). God sees the bigger picture and grants His children that which is best for their eternal benefit.
In His service,
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