Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…”
— 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
“God uses…weakness, along with other afflictions, as his chisel for sculpting our lives. Felt weakness deepens dependence on Christ for strength each day. The weaker we feel, the harder we lean. And the harder we lean, the stronger we grow spiritually… To live with your ‘thorn’ uncomplainingly — that is, sweet, patient, and free in heart to love and help others, even though every day you feel weak — is true sanctification. It is true healing for the spirit. It is a supreme victory of grace.” — J I Packer
Some of us are men with pain, emotional and physical. When we are going through difficult or painful situations in our life, we can get so overwhelmed that we loose sight of the fact that God often uses our pain as a part of our personal journey. Going through times of suffering allows us to have mercy on and help others who are in pain. It also helps us to depend on God. “…but this happened,” said the Apostle Paul, “that that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9 NIV) What happened? Here’s what happened, “…we were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.” (2 Corinthians 1:8 NIV) You’d think it was the good times that taught Paul to depend on God who raises the dead but that’s not what he said. It was the rough times, the times that he was pressured beyond his ability that taught him to depend on God. So it is with us.
Paul was no stranger to suffering. He was buffeted by the evil one and prayed for God to rid him of his thorn in the flesh. It was a burden to him. “Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me”(2 Corinthians 12:8). If you’re in a place where, like Paul, you’ve pleaded for God to remove that thing in your life (you know what it is) but He hasn’t—take comfort. Paul learned that in his weakness God’s strength is made strong in him (2 Corinthians 2:9).
God never wastes a wound. He uses them to teach us wisdom and show us how to avoid going through those things again. He uses them to draw us back to him, for when we are weak then He is strong (1 Corinthians 4:10). We also take the comfort we received from God and in turn become conduits of comfort to others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
The great need in the world today is not for more gifted men or more talented men, but for more broken men. Why? Because God delights in taking cracked vessels, comforting them, and then using those vessels to bring comfort to a dying world. We become conduits by which His healing virtue flows.
Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.