“…..Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself. Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times to take this away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
Thorn (skólops): A pointed piece of wood, a pale, a stake. A point or prickle. Figuratively, a bodily annoyance or disability.
In the above passage Paul experienced some time of affliction to his physical body. So much so, he asked the Lord three times to remove the ‘thorn’. The Lord didn’t respond with a resounding ‘yes’. In fact, the Lord said ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for m\My power is perfected in weakness’. In other words, ‘I’m not removing the thorn, but I’ll strengthen you through it.’
Paul said ‘if His power is perfect in my weakness then I’ll boast in my weakness, infirmity, persecutions, etc.’ He couldn’t change that the Lord didn’t remove the thorn, but he was able to shift his perspective.
There are times when we’ll go through affliction of some sort. It may or may not be physical. Either way, sometimes it just feels like too much to bear. The Lord won’t always remove the affliction, but He’ll strengthen us in it. We’ll come out on the side stronger because of it. We’ll learn to praise Him through it. We’ll encounter another side of His character in the process.
Removing the ‘thing’ won’t solve the problem. Sometimes we need to go through some things for the strength of Christ within us to be manifested. In order to see that we CAN do ALL things through Him that gives us strength. The Lord is a strong tower and strength of those that need and place their trust in Jesus. For those who call Him Lord and receive His Son. How else can we see that He is our strength if at times we don’t walk through some things that feel less that comfortable? Maybe impossible, unbearable even. Paul didn’t curse God. He didn’t shake his fist at God. He pretty much said ‘okay, if Your power is made perfect in my weakness and You guarantee to be the strength I need then let me boast even more in how weak I am’. Paul trusted the Lord.
Honestly, I can’t testify that I’ve always ‘boasted in my affliction’ but I can say that the more I have experienced the more I grow in Him and I’ve learned that there is a purpose for what I’m facing in this life. Thus far, I’ve come out stronger on the other side because of it. I’m wiser as a result of it. My faith has increased through it. I realize all the more how much I need Him every single day. He is the air I breathe and apart of Him, I’m nothing. I’m lost.
Whether we like it or not, affliction may not always be removed, and it won’t just go away. We can’t sleep it away (the morning will come), drink it away or get high to forget it (eventually one becomes sober); we can’t watch television all day hoping it’ll go away because eventually the shows end and the issue remains; undealt with. Unresolved. Waiting for us to face it (whatever ‘it’ may be). We have to push through regardless of the situation. We have to trust God to be our strength.
How do we deal with it? We present it to the One that can help us in it and through it. We renew our minds in His Word. We pray and seek His face. We worship Him, we seek Him. We trust Him. He in turn gives us wisdom, increases our faith, strengthens us and He shifts our perspective.
No matter what the affliction is – a failing marriage, sickness in your body or someone you love, a lost loved one, a complicated employer/colleague, depleting finances – His grace is sufficient, and His power is perfected in your weakness.
My prayer for you is that you’re able to see this truth in your situation if you haven’t until now. Praying God shifts your perspective and may He be glorified in and through you in the midst of your affliction.
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