NIV 365 Making Sense of the Pain

 (2 Corinthians 12:1–10)

During one semester of my college years, everything seemed to conspire against me. Late one night I shared my fears and frustrations with my parents. They listened and prayed. Soon a letter arrived with a card on which Mom had copied a poem by Grant Tuller:

My life is but a weaving between my God and me

I do not choose the colors; He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper-, and I the under-side.

Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reasons why

The dark threads are as needful in a skillful weaver’s hand

As the threads of gold and silver, in the pattern he has planned.

Paul’s letters to his congregation in Corinth are interwoven with threads of pain and joy. Sometimes Paul recounted his great apostolic calling and used it to persuade the church to accept his authority. ther times he wandered about in near despair, pleading with his fellow believers for support. In 2 Corinthians 12:1–10, Paul slid from ecstasy to entropy, ending up with reflections not unlike those of Tuller.

He could have been writing a journal entry about the relationship of any couple. We thrill when we first make eye contact. We find our days energized as we become engaged and plan for marriage, and our nights are vivid with passionate dreams of our life together. When we marry and are happy with each other, we carry our partner along on the currents of victory.

But there are also pages in our relationships when days pass without a note, and those that finally appear are short and tear-stained. We feel the thorn of sickness. Lost opportunities. Foolish mistakes. Broken promises. Our elation bursts, our energy escapes, and darkness becomes our closest friend. What do we say then?

Perhaps, with Job, we need to be reminded that not all suffering comes from God, and that no suffering is beyond God’s care. Perhaps, with Paul, we need to claim a larger perspective that prevents us from getting stuck too long in the darkness of depression.

If today is the best day of your life, it won’t last. Tonight might be an inch short of hopeless; it won’t last either. Whatever has brought you to this moment is only part of the story of your life and relationship. The rest is yet to come. Put all of it—dark thorns and shining threads—into God’s hands, and he will sustain you.

—Wayne Brouwer

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