Meeting God in Your Mess

I’m doing some study in 2 Corinthians this week in preparation for our upcoming Advancing the Church  conference in February. I’m especially struck by the opening phrase, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. . .”  (2 Cor. 1:1).

You remember that much of 2 Corinthians is Paul’s explanation of why his ministry had been fraught with so many difficulties. Paul’s opponents argued that his troubles proved he wasn’t a genuine apostle. Paul argues exactly the opposite. His troubles actually became the portal for a deeper experience of God’s grace in his life. His weakness made the treasure of Christ in his life all the more prominent.

So I think his mention of “the will of God” probably has a dual purpose. He obviously is making a statement that his apostleship is invested with divine authority. But I wonder if there might also be another more personal reason for mentioning God’s will? That is, Paul found it helpful to remind himself, before rehearsing all the troubles he had experienced, that this was all part of God’s plan for his life. He was right where God wanted him to be, though at times it was an uncomfortable position. He hadn’t made a wrong turn somewhere to wind up in all these messes!

Don’t you find that you need a similar reminder at times? I certainly do. Trouble, trials, and disappointments do not necessarily indicate God’s displeasure with me. They are God’s way of reminding me that only when I am weak and entirely dependent on Him, do I experience His all-sufficient strength (2 Cor. 12: 9). Let’s embrace our troubles today – for therein lies an excellent opportunity for others to see the glory of Jesus revealed in us.


About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

One Response to Meeting God in Your Mess

  1. Jim E says:

    So good…it is hard sometimes to see God’s hand in our lives in times of “trouble”…this week after hearing “just one more” story of trouble happening to good people…I wrote a note to myself, “Satan is trying to kill us…he roams about seeking whom he may devour…but ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.'” (Lamentations 4:22-23)…

    My “good ol’ Minnesota Scandinavian (with a little Irish mixed in) philosophy/humor” directly from my Mother, comes into play here…she would say, “It could be worse.”…and maybe Paul was not saying that exactly…but the truth is there…life hands us trouble…God gives us His mercy, compassion and grace…and they are new every morning…we need to, as you said, “embrace our troubles today…not only does it reveal Jesus in us…but shows God is holding us “up”, protecting us from being consumed…

    “We are loved with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) “and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)…

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