By: Pastor Ed Young
Posted: June 16, 2017
From Series: Lemonade
2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, I was given 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Weakness doesn’t make us frail or unable to do any heavy lifting. Nor does it mean lack of will power or the inability to overcome. Quite the opposite is true for followers of Christ. Rather, it’s a posture of surrender, which affords us the ability to do ‘all things through Christ who gives us strength’. God had allowed Paul to witness inexpressible revelations. In order for him to remain on task without succumbing to pride, he was given some kind of undisclosed ailment or affliction. Whatever it was, it tortured him enough to ask the Lord to remove it on three separate occasions. Each time, however, Jesus said, “No, My grace is sufficient for you”. As we’ve discussed this week, God works through all things for our good and His glory. So, Jesus is saying, “Paul, I’m not going to heal you now, but I offer you something far better—Me!”
Does Paul share this with the Corinthian Christians as a status update? No, he did it to encourage them to remain faithful to God regardless of any abysmal circumstance. And, not only that, his bigger point was to seek joy in the face of pain, because in our weakness Christ’s strength abounds. It’s a paradox: when we are weak, we are strong. The more dependent we are on God, the greater amount of power we’ll receive to overcome any obstacle. So God took what Satan had intended to defeat Paul, and turned it into a thing of victory. Because he remained humble, he was therefore abundantly useful to help advance the kingdom of God.
None of us desires difficulty or pain, yet it is through our discomfort that the Lord is able to bring us to a place where we can gain total reliance upon His strength and not our own.
Jesus, I praise You for the constant availability of Your strength and power. Help me to walk in humility and to look for joy in the midst of pain.
What is the thorn in your side? Have you given in to it to the point of bitterness and defeat? How could God work through it for your good and His glory?
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