[Moses] chose to be mistreated with God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. – Hebrews 11:25
1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then, you won’t become weary and give up.
4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
1 You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure.
2 You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.
In Greek mythology, Antaeus was the son of Poseidon, the sea god, and the Earth goddess Gaea. He compelled all strangers passing through his territory to wrestle with him. In Greek wrestling, the object was to throw your opponent to the ground and pin them. That didn’t work too well for opponents when wrestling with Antaeus.
Antaeus was invigorated and renewed whenever he touched the Earth (Gaea, his mother). If he was thrown to the ground, he became stronger. He was invincible. He always won and destroyed his opponents.
Enter Hercules. The tactics of Antaeus worked perfectly until he met Hercules. After multiple attempts, Hercules soon recognized that he could not beat Antaeus by throwing him to the ground. Hercules realized that each time he pinned Antaeus to the ground, he was energized and became more powerful. A new strategy was needed.
The solution was quite simple. Simple, that is if you’re strong enough to carry it out. Hercules grabbed Antaeus in a body lock and held them aloft above the ground until all his power had drained away. Hercules then crushed Antaeus to death.
Sadly, children of the King are repeatedly mistreated, “thrown to the ground,” and defeated. Is it possible to turn this around? Yes indeed.
Paul shows the way!
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 Each time [the Lord] said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
It’s all about heart, attitude, and trust. Paul responded to mistreatment by learning to rejoice in his weaknesses. Rather than being upset or angry, he accepted them as part of his training regimen as a servant of the Father. This requires a total perspective transformation from our normal fallen reactions.
That which should have defeated him only made him stronger. He was often bruised and beaten but invincible until his mission was accomplished. Down the road, he had a date with Nero’s executioners. But until then, he was fearless and was willing to suffer any hardship as a soldier of the King.
REFLECT & PRAY
The more children of the King are mistreated and respond appropriately, the stronger they become.
Father I want to embrace and hold fast to Your promise that Your grace is sufficient for me. When I am weak, I am strong! Thank You.
Paul outlines the struggle with his “thorn in the flesh” in 2 Corinthians 12. We are never told precisely what the thorn was. It is not wise to speculate about what we do not know and what the Father has not revealed. Whatever it was, Paul struggled with it and asked the Father to remove it. But the Father refused his request. Why?
The Father had something entirely different in mind. The Father gave Paul greater awareness and understanding of what He was crafting in his life. The circumstances were unchanged, and the situation did not improve. The thorn was still in his life as a source of torment.
“As Paul prayed about his problem, God gave him a deeper insight into what He was doing. Paul learned that his thorn in the flesh was a gift from God. What a strange gift! There was only one thing for Paul to do: accept the gift from God and allow God to accomplish His purposes. God wanted to keep Paul from being ‘exalted above measure,’ and this was His way of accomplishing it.”
“When Paul accepted his affliction as the gift of God, this made it possible for God’s grace to go to work in his life. It was then that God spoke to Paul and gave him the assurance of His grace” (Wiersbe).
The Father did not offer any explanations. Instead, the Father gave Paul a tremendous promise, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “We do not live on explanations; we live on promises. Our feelings change, but God’s promises never change. Promises generate faith, and faith strengthens hope” (Wiersbe). In the kingdom of God, this is the way the Father works in the lives of the children of the King.
The Father’s grace allows children of the King to rise above their circumstances, concerns, opinions, fears, suffering, and feelings.
Paul experienced a major perspective transformation. He became invincible when he realized that the Father intended for him not merely to surrender and accept his hardships but also to thank the Father for them.
For mere human beings limited by fallen DNA, this is an amazing way of looking at the trials and difficulties of life. “God’s grace enabled Paul not only to accept his afflictions but to glory in them. His suffering was not a tyrant that controlled him, but a servant that worked for him” (Wiersbe).
Tribulations and difficulties, “thorns of the flesh,” are not meant to destroy us but rather strengthen us. It all begins with an attitude of giving thanks for all of our afflictions.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 12:10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
As children of the King learn to do this, something totally unexpected and marvelous happens. Our weaknesses are transformed into strengths.
When children of the King are thrown to the ground and become weak, they are supernaturally strengthened and become strong!
© Dr. H 2022