How could Paul say, “I take pleasure in distresses” and really mean it? Paul could say that he took pleasure in distresses because, when he was in distress, he received from the Lord:
Grace – 2 Cor 12:9-10 “I take pleasure in… distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Distress will weaken you just like all these other things in verse 10 will. However, while you’re in this weaknesses, and you’re praying, God’s sufficient grace not only sustains you, it actually makes you stronger. And the strength of the grace of God is far greater than any personal strength you possess. You know that you should be weak, but you’re actually stronger. And so it’s the strength of his grace, through distress, in which you take pleasure.
Answers – Ps 4:1 thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress. See Ps 18:6, as well. Enlarge here means to release from the pressure. The Lord hears your prayer according to v.3. He puts gladness in your heart according to v.7. And then he gives you peaceful sleep and safety according to v.8. Prayer is much better than meditation, when you just commune with yourself. In prayer, God is listening and he answers your prayers.
Encouragement – 1 Sam 30:6 David was greatly distressed, yet he encouraged himself in the Lord. There are times when no one else can help you. Nevertheless, God is right there with you. You know he’s there because of the encouragement he gives you. Looking back on some of the most distressing times in my life, I see the presence of God through his encouragement. I could have never gotten through those times without him.
Companions – 1 Sam 22:1-2 everyone that was in distress… gathered themselves unto him. Often when you are distressed, there are others that are feeling the same thing you’re feeling at the same time. This isn’t the ministry of consolation. In consolation, you’ve already been through it and you’re able to comfort someone else who goes through it after you. In some of your distresses, God gives you companions to go through them with you. I was so blessed today through some of your texts. Families were together in their homes listening to the teaching and preaching of God’s words.
Deliverance – Ps 107:6, 13, 19, 28 with verses 8, 15, 21, 31. You know, we go through distresses and the Lord delivers us out of them. Then we praise the Lord for his goodness. But guess what? You’ll go through more distresses. And you’ll praise God again. That’s why Paul said that he took pleasure in distresses (plural). There are more to come, and these will be followed by more deliverance and praise. It’s just the way it is. Thank God for his goodness and his deliverance. At the Rapture, we’re out of here till he ends this crazy world.
Love – Rom 8:35-39 distress cannot separate us from the love of Christ. We are more than conquerors through him that loved us. It is in times of deep distress that you want to remember the love God has for you. And you want to enjoy the sweetness of his love. You’re prone to wander away from his love. But in times of distress, instead of being separated from his love, you are drawn closer to him. As the old saying goes, you end up either bitter or better.
Conclusion: Look at the wonderful things God gives us in times of distress. From now on, be like Paul and take pleasure in distresses. You’ll be much better for it.