When Life Hurts, Part 4
7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
—2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Taking the long view of situations, keeping hope alive, and expecting life to have pain are three ways God gives us through His Word to deal with the hurts we face in life. The last step is an amazing promise that we have to believe about God.
God Will Give You All You Need. The news no one wants is that some struggles just don’t disappear when we want or when we feel our faith has grown far enough. Enter Paul and 2 Corinthians 12:7-8. In some cases, the Lord allows an ailment or affliction to remain. No one is quite sure what Paul’s “thorn” was exactly, which makes it a helpful generic place-holder for any particular pain.
Notice first that God was not the author of this thorn or every thorn that’s threatened your life. It is the weapon and tool of our ancient foe. (See John 10:10, Revelation 12:10, and 1 Peter 5:8.) But what our enemy has intended to destroy faith, God would use to cause it to flourish. And that’s what we would herald here. And it’s what we also see as something very unique in this passage.
It’s God’s answer to Paul’s plea found in verse 9. This is the only time in Paul’s thirteen letters where we find him directly quoting Christ. The point we might infer? It was personal. It was difficult. Paul’s struggle was no small issue. He needed a personal word; one he is passing on to us.
I may not have what it takes, but God does! And that’s the heart a thorn can cause—a desperate dependence on the Lord and His strength to operate because of my acute awareness of my weakness.
The hurts we face can make us bitter or become the means by which God can pour His presence into our lives. It's a choice, really. Which will it be? When life hurts we need to run toward He who has been then too. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Let’s allow His power to be perfected in our weakness, His grace is sufficient. —Joel Anderson
· Could it be said that I am a bitter person?
· Who can I ask that will give me an honest answer?
Prayer – Dear Father in heaven, Your grace is sufficient! My heart knows that, but my head keeps telling me something else. Thank You for the trials and pain you allow into my life that cause me to be desperate. I would not think to run to You as earnestly and desperately if things were going smoothly all the time. Help me to always view pain that way, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.