Okay so, I am still, yes STILL, doing Kelly Minter’s study of 2nd Corinthians called All Things New. And we got to Paul’s thorn in the side… (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Okay, so I remember all of my dad’s beautiful roses. You can learn a thing or two about growing them and keeping them beautiful from an old farmer. Like moth balls keep away mildew… But I also remember cutting some and bringing them inside and preparing them for a beautiful bouquet. And I quite vividly remember sticking my finger with one of those thorns! Shoot that hurt! I’m sure you can remember that just as I can and probably have been so very careful ever since you did it as well.
So when I was reading once again about the thorn in the flesh which Paul even likened to a tormentor of Satan I couldn’t imagine to compare it to something that possibly would be like sticking your finger with a thorn. But more recently since I broke my heels, I can imagine it as foot pain in doing the simplest of things like walking. It may even have been an emotional trauma that just wouldn’t have let go of his mind and emotions. That’s what seems to get me the very most. Whatever it was, it was given to Paul to keep him humble. I like that, given to because it makes it sound as if it were a gift.
When was the last time you actually thought of an injury of some sort as a gift? Something that would keep you in the center of God’s will, no matter how painful is a true gift. I know we are told to consider it ‘all joy in James, but truly, when was your last time? I seriously can’t remember mine. I’m pretty sure that falls under the heading of being intentional about our perspective.
Here’s the thing? Do I keep my eyes on Jesus through whatever it is I’m experiencing? If I do and my focus is on Jesus, it takes my attention away from the pain of my situation. If I praise in the middle of it, if I worship and remind God and myself how strong and loving and giving He is, how much less would my pain be? I’m guessing oodles. (I love that word).
A quote from Kelly that got me thinking: “I’ve spent way too much time sidelined by certain pain, trying to dissect it and figure it out, instead of experiencing Christ’s sufficient grace and perfect power in the midst of it.”
And that’s when God showed it to me. He showed me that He is my buffer against the pain. That He comes in closer to me than that thorn and that He takes the brunt of that pain away. If I just keep looking to Him, the brunt of it is absorbed and my focus changes.
Paul’s’ focus changes, too. The thorn had not changed but Paul’s perspective had. If you read the verses I posted above, Paul starts out by asking God three times to remove the thorn. And God says no. God’s reply is that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And that right there changes Paul’s actions.
In verse 9, Paul stays that from now on he will gladly – yes gladly – boast in his weakness. Why? “So that the power of Christ may dwell in me”. So that we give God ALL the glory for helping us through.
And verse 10 is the kicker! “10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So here are a couple of questions I’m going to put to you today.
- In the middle of your most painful trial, how has Jesus’ grace been sufficient for you?
- How has His power been made perfect in your weakness?
Here’s a great prayer from an actual person after a devastating loss:
“God, you prevent what could have been prevented. Thank you. My heart trusts in your unfailing love.”
Oh to have that huge amount of faith! This is the miracle that comes with trusting always in God. A God that may allow the thorn, but never does it without giving the buffer of Jesus’ grace and power in extra measure.
So be encouraged today. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is with you. Change your focus.