Why has God allowed us to be so fragile if we are to be His vessels? Paul was no stranger to it. They had faced the sentence of death and unthinkably immense suffering. Why would God let them get to the brink? Paul says that God brought them to the brink of death, stripped away all of their resources and shattered their self-reliance so that they could learn to trust in the God who raises the dead. In their greatest weakness was the greatest glory.
One of the great mysteries of the Bible is that it is better to be hurt and be comforted by God than to never hurt at all. Our despair is our greatest hope. The pain of a broken heart is the guarantee of the comforting arms of God. But even that is not the sole purpose. God comforts us so that we can comfort others, where His love flows through us and into others. That is the greatest glory of humanity; we are broken vessels, restored by God and then used by God to restore others. Our heartache is the down payment on joining with God in the greatest honor we could ever enjoy. "The pride and refuse of the universe," Pascal wrote so wisely. But what a Savior, who does not just heal us from our weakness. He transforms it into strength.