It Was Given to me a Thorn in my Flesh
“If I had a mind to brag a little, I could probably do it without looking ridiculous, and I’d still be speaking plain truth all the way. But I’ll spare you. I don’t want anyone imagining me as anything other than the fool you’d encounter if you saw me on the street or heard me talk. Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty!” 2 Corinthians 12:6-7 (MSG)
It’s interesting how life works out sometimes. Seven months ago, I began attending hypnosis sessions to help me lose weight. To date, I have only lost 20 pounds. As the weeks have gone by with little result, I have become increasingly frustrated with the whole process, and today I voiced the thought that maybe there’s a reason I’m heavy and can’t get this weight off; maybe God wants me heavy for whatever reason.
Jen said something about it being the thorn in my side, which is a concept that Paul talks about it in 2 Corinthians 12. He could really boast of all the things the Lord had done for and through and in him, but instead, he had to contend with this handicap, this thorn in the flesh. Though he begged God three times to rid him of this thing that hindered him, the Lord said, “I give you an unearned measure of my presence that is more than enough for all your needs.” Once Paul came to terms with that, he began to understand that God’s power was at its fullest potential when Paul was at his weakest, and once he got that, Paul began to take his limitations in stride. He understood that the weaker he got, the stronger God got.
Every once in a while something happens that makes me realize, for example, that my inability to lose weight isn’t so bad. Life throws you curve balls. Some very dear friends of mine got that curve ball last week. One of the worst you can get. Cancer. While the prognosis is good and they caught it early, it’s still terrifying. But God’s grace is enough for them, and He’s already showing them the unearned favor they need to get by each and every day. And when that diagnosis truly hits home, He will be there to walk through that valley with them.
Like that commercial says, “Life comes at you fast.” But God offers a much richer insurance policy than Nationwide ever could. It’s not ours to know why, it’s just ours to know that through it all, we don’t walk alone. I may never drop the weight or have any clue as to why. We may never know why my friend got cancer. But His power is made perfect in our weakness. And the weaker we get, the stronger He becomes. And through it all, He promises that He is at work in us for our good and His glory. That’s a powerful promise. It’s a promise that says a few things. One, He is actively at work on our behalf. Two, He will not waste any of our experiences, good or bad. Three, we can be secure in the knowledge that all we have to do is respond to His gift of grace, and He takes care of the rest.
“At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size–abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” 2 Cor 12:8-10 (MSG)