“I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13, NEB).
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was once asked by a reporter what he thought about an opponent who had a clever plan for defensing his left hook. Tyson responded, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
Sometimes Christians, especially affluent Christians, forget that bad things in life can happen to them. When everything seems to be going so good, we somehow get to thinking that we are fortunate because we deserve God’s great grace. We begin to think that certainly God won’t let anything bad happen to us because we are so blessed.
Then, life gives us a sucker punch to the face! Just when everything seemed so fine. Maybe it’s a serious illness, the unexpected death of a loved one, the loss of a job or a thousand other unforeseen tragedies that can come our way in life.
And it challenges our faith. How can this be God’s will? Why would God let this happen to me?
The Apostle Paul explained that for the sake of the gospel he had been imprisoned, beaten and faced death more times than he could remember. As an apostle of Christ he had encountered many dangerous situations, afflicted with serious illness and experienced privation (see 2 Cor 11-12).
But Paul learned an important lesson about suffering and adversity when God told him that His “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NEB). Then Paul was “all right with weaknesses, insults, disasters, harassments, and stressful situations for the sake of Christ because when I’m weak, then I’m strong” (vs. 10).
As Christians we must understand that the absence of tragedy or deprivation from our lives is not the measure of the greatness of our faith. And, the height of our success, the immensity of our wealth or the extent of our prosperity is not an indicator of the depth of our spirituality.
Life is like a boxing match. It doesn’t matter if you get punched in the face and knocked down. What matters is that in the name of Jesus you get back up and fight some more!
Because it is in your weakness that God’s power can be revealed through you…
And, the measure of your faith is how much Christ strengthens you.
The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. (Philippians 3:10, NEB).