When we come to the Lord, we are all messed up from life. We have been living in a physical world, born in sin… we are not perfect. There is only ONE perfect person and that is not any of us. That is Jesus Christ; so now we all know this let us not be ashamed to confess our faults to Him! We come in all shapes and sizes with all sorts of baggage. We may look all suited and booted, well-groomed, driving the prestigious car and living in the most sought after locations in the city; but God still knows the mess we are in. Everyone has a struggle, a challenge, a thorn in their side, a weakness, something that won’t quite go away! Struggling with sexual, urges; with cravings for the substances we were abusing in the world, struggling with compulsive lying, the list goes on. Many accommodate it, some fight against it, some accept it and try to manage it while others seek God for an answer. So what should we do with these very real struggles? Remember we are still humans, not perfect but striving for perfection. We will slip, we sill slide, we will fall… but we must get up again. So, let’s go to the source of Truth and find out what God says about it in the following scripture:
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (KJV)
Verse 7: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Paul, an Apostle and one of the most influential teachers and interpreters of the message of Christ, wrote thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. He became a Christian and began travelling to preach and teach the Gospel (Good News). When we are called into the Faith we have the capacity to become great IN CHRIST, to do great things in His name and this was no different for Paul. Paul recognised that through the greatness of the revelations that would be revealed to Him through the Holy Spirit, he could be praised and glorified by others and indeed even put himself on a pedestal instead of giving the praise to God. In a nutshell, he could become prideful and vain, ‘big-headed’ believing in himself. Unfortunately, this happens all too often today, but that’s discussion for another time! For this reason, God allowed a messenger of Satan to ‘buffet,’ which is to strike with a fist, to punch him. So, we know Paul had his problems just like the rest of us and although we do not know exactly what it was we know that his struggle, challenge, trial was something painful and physical which afflicted his body! Was it visible to others? We do not know.
Verse 8: For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
Paul acknowledged his struggle and went straight to the Lord about it. He didn’t try to deal with it himself, he didn’t get on the phone to see if someone else could sort out his problem for him; he went to the one person who could help. And He begged the Lord three times to take it away from him. So we see here that we should keep asking the Lord until we get an answer.
Verse 9: And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Many of us think that if we ask the Lord for something we will always receive what we have asked for. No! We will always receive an answer but it may not always be what we want. The Lord did not remove the problem, and He explained to Paul why it would remain. Remember God sees into the future and He knows the things we don’t know, He sees the bigger picture. Our Faith is a COMPLETE trust in Him, to trust that He will do what is right for us. What would Paul’s future have been like if the thorn had been removed from his flesh? Would he have continued to be faithful to the Lord and fulfil his destiny?We don’t know. The answer God gave was that His grace, which is His unmerited favour, His forgiveness, His patience, His understanding of what we are going through is more than enough to keep us. When we are weak we call on Him and He works for us and through that weakness, we see God’s strength. And more importantly we remember that it is Him and not us, who has the power. It keeps us humble and not puffed up and prideful. When the Lord explained this to Paul, he did not sulk and blame God; he GOT IT, he understood! When he realised that through his infirmities, Christ could work through him and that his struggles did not in any way diminish the power of God working in his life; he was HAPPY! He embraced his situation.
Verse 10: Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
From this point forward, Paul ‘took pleasure’ in his struggles and challenges for Christ’s sake. He was completely ‘sold out for Christ.’
Whatever the struggle, physical, mental, psychological, please go to God with it. The message here is to fully immerse yourself in the Lord, seek Him to find out if He will remove the thorn from your flesh or if your calling is so great that something needs to remain to keep you grounded! More importantly of all, trust in God regardless of whether you received the answer you wanted or not. We can deal with anything as long as we understand it!