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Contented Anguish


By Benjamin H. Liles

          Trouble and anguish have overtaken me, Yet Your commandments are my delights. ~ Psalm 119:143

           If we delight ourselves in God’s word, our struggles seem rather light. In the three years of His ministry, Jesus Christ only suffered twice: once at the end of a forty day fast – in which Satan then tempted Him – and the second right before His crucifixion, death, and resurrection. And this is where I want to focus. On the Mount of Olives, before His arrest, Jesus prays, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). If we notice what is done, we see that an angel appears and strengthens Him. 

           So what can we learn from this? In those moments where we lack strength, where we just pray, God will give and restore us to strength. It’s not our strength, however. His word not only delights us, but shows us just how much more God loves us even in those moments where we’re weak, where we’re suffering, or even when we’re struggling. And this isn’t the same kind of struggling or suffering we go through as though we’ve sinned and repented. No. This is the way we go so that God may be glorified.

           I love how Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed: he “Begged the Lord three times that it might depart from me” (2 Corinthians 12:8). But we need to notice what God says to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (12:9a). It is why Paul was able to “Glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in injuries, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then am I strong” (12:9b, 10).

           In those moments in which we feel so weak, that we can’t carry on, we just need to keep our eyes on Him who overcame on our behalf. And rest in the fact that His strength cancels out our weakness. His power rests upon us if we are like Paul on the matter glorying in our weaknesses.