Have you ever asked God to take away some burden or difficulty in your life? Of course you have. You haven't been in youth ministry very long if you haven't. :) The apostle Paul was not shy about asking God to take away his "thorn in the flesh." Recall what he said in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9 . . .

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

We all like to think we could serve God better without the distractions of problems. "If God could just take away that one thing (or, let's be honest, that one person) my ministry would run so smoothly."We've probably all had those thoughts.

The funny thing is that so often, God seems to think otherwise. Many times, as was the case with Paul, God says "no" to our requests to take away the source of our struggles.

Why? Does God not love us? Does He have a twisted sense of humor? Does He want us to struggle for the sake of struggling? I think Scripture is pretty clear that none of these are the case. While God is content sometimes to leave us in our trials, we know God is not mean-spirited. We know He doesn't like to see us suffer. So we have to ask, "Why is it that God doesn't smooth our life's wrinkles"?

We see a glimpse of the reason in God's response to Paul. God told Paul that His grace was sufficient for meeting Paul's need. It is God's grace that saves us. It is that same grace that will give us the strength to face whatever may happen in life. Paul learned that the power of God is revealed in a tremendous way in our weaknesses. What an incredible lesson this is to learn!

Whether dealing with a difficulty or trying something outside your comfort zone, there is no doubt that God is the one giving us the strength to stand. Don't run from your weaknesses. Rather, embrace them! Embrace the power of the living God.

We all want to live free of troubles and trials. It's human nature. But when troubles and trials do enter our lives and ministries, our first instinct should be to seek God's all-sufficient grace, trusting Him to provide exactly what we need to overcome the trials life brings.