Our Thorns In The Flesh!!!

tuesday 1 peter

 

Have a Wonderful and Blessed day!!! Strength through Weakness!!!

2Corinthians 12:7 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.
2Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2Corinthians 12:9 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.
2Corinthians 12:10 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.
2Corinthians 12:11 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
The text today comes from the second letter Paul had written to the Corinthian church. The church at Corinth struggled with spiritual consistency. While they had embraced the Gospel, many continued to walk according to the flesh, and many had developed a carnal mindset. The attitude and behavior of those within the church guided Paul’s letters to them.

While seeking to instill trust and devotion to the Lord, Paul recounts an encounter he had experienced some fourteen years prior to writing this letter. He offers few details, and doesn’t even acknowledge that he was actually the man involved in this glorious encounter; yet Paul describes a man being taken up into paradise to witness unspeakable glory. No doubt this forever changed the Apostle, and he continually dealt with the effects of this encounter. Clearly it had shaped his life and ministry, bringing him closer to the Lord with a renewed commitment.
It also presented a challenge for Paul – he had encountered something that no other individual had encountered. Such an encounter could potentially produce pride in his heart and negatively affect his ministry for the Lord.
We will see how Paul dealt with the effects of this glorious encounter and overcame the pride it created within his life. Through all of this Paul learned one of the great bizarreness in Christian life – strength is found through weakness. Such a statement is contrary to the philosophies being taught today, but from a spiritual perspective, this reveals great truth. In order for the believer to become strong in the faith, we must experience great weakness. One will never be strong until he is weak.

I. The Potential for Vanity (7-8)
2Corinthians 12:7 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.
2Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

As Paul continued to share about his miraculous encounter, he revealed a struggle that often develops following such an encounter. While our struggles are clearly different than Paul’s, we too deal with the potential for vanity in our lives. Consider:

A. The Temptation (7a) – 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 Lord knew Paul would be tempted to become vain and prideful following this encounter. This does not necessarily imply that Paul had developed a great deal of sinful pride following the encounter, but the potential was there. Satan would use this as an opportunity to create pride in the heart of Paul. It would have been easy for him to have focused more on the encounter than actually depending on the Lord in ministry.

Pride is something we all deal with in some form or another. Regardless of the position we hold or the area in which we serve, we all are tempted with pride and vanity. This is especially true the longer we serve in a particular area, and the more familiar we become with the work in which we are engaged. If we are not careful we will begin to depend more on our own abilities and past experiences than in the power and provision of the Lord. I know anytime I have relied on self it turns into a huge mess and something not pleasing to the Lord.

B. The Affliction (7b) –
2Corinthians 12:7 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.

There has been much debate as to what this thorn in the flesh might have been. That debate continues today, but it is really irrelevant. Regardless of what the thorn actually was, it was given to Paul with purpose. I believe and have heard others say maybe it wasn’t revealed so that all of us that have had a thorn in the flesh;

a. Speech impediment
b. Hearing impediment
c. Unable to walk properly
d. Illness, cancer, autoimmune disease, cardiac issues.
e. High anxiety

We can look at the thorn in the flesh at any one of these problems or one not mentioned. Sadly many who become afflicted stop serving because “I am not good enough” “I will be embarrassed”, “People will mock me and not listen to the truth”.

The Lord knew he would be tempted to feel exalted because of his unusual encounter. This would have an adverse effect on his ministry. The thorn in Paul’s flesh was possibly sent in order to prevent him from becoming arrogant about his experience with the Lord in paradise.
We must shield ourselves against assuming that every burden and trial we face is of no value within our lives. While none of us enjoy seasons of adversity, we should seek to learn from those times and trust they have been allowed for our good. If a trial prevents us from straying from the Lord, actually causing us to seek Him, then we would have to agree that it is beneficial.

C. The Supplication (8)
2Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

It (this thorn) caused great concern for Paul. There was likely some sort of physical discomfort or pain associated with his affliction. It was so burdensome that he asked the Lord three specific times to remove the thorn from him. This thorn was provided to buffet him. This reveals a burden that was continual; it never ceased. At this point, Paul saw no benefit in the thorn; he was focused solely on the suffering it caused.

I am sure we all can relate to Paul’s trial and his desire for it to be removed. Our troubles and heartaches are varied, but we all face adversity in life. I know of no one who enjoys physical pain or discomfort. Like Paul, we immediately begin to pray for the Lord to remove the burden or trial. We focus on the pain, and give little thought to any benefit it may bring. I do not enjoy adversity in any form, but if our trials create spiritual growth, drawing us closer to our Lord, they are beneficial in our lives. Since becoming ill with Chronic Guillane Barre (an awful autoimmune illness). I have tried to always specifically in the rough times look at it as a way to get the gospel out at the Doctors office, the hospital, even the grocery store. I am in no way saying this is easy because it is not but I have seen when we get this attitude that thorn seems to not be so bad.

II. The Presence of Victory (9-10)

2Corinthians 12:9 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.
2Corinthians 12:10 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.

At the onset of his affliction, Paul could see no benefit in it at all. He only wanted it removed. However, the Lord had allowed this thorn in Paul’s life for a purpose. He would use this thorn to teach Paul much about his faith, essentially bringing victory to him through his adversity.

A. The Provision (9a) – And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. The Lord’s response to Paul is very interesting. He doesn’t speak of the nature of the thorn or the severity of Paul’s suffering. Jesus revealed that His grace was sufficient, and that His strength was perfected in weakness. Paul was focused on the thorn, the suffering, and Jesus was focused on His grace and strength. While the thorn would not be removed, the Lord would provide the grace and strength necessary to endure. As we see this lets remember no THORN is too big for the Lord. When we focus on the Lord, serving him, and reaching out to the lost, self doesn’t seem to be as important.

While this verse has brought comfort and hope to many throughout the ages, it is also very challenging. We discover that our Lord has a different perspective than we do. Living in a body of flesh, we tend to focus on the physical aspects of life. When we have pain, we immediately focus on the pain. The Lord views life from a spiritual perspective. He desires us to focus on His grace and strength when facing adversity. We must always seek the Lord’s grace and strength in our lives above all else. His grace is always sufficient, regardless of the trial, thorn, illness, battle we must endure. You will never face a trial that our Lord is unable to guide you through according to His grace and strength.

B. The Perspective (9b) – Most likely this attitude had not developed over night, but Paul reveals that he possessed a new perspective on life, and his suffering in particular. He had come to the place that he was willing to welcome adversity, even rejoicing in it, so that he might experience the power of Christ in his life. If suffering was the source of strength and power through Christ, he welcomed such difficulty with open arms.

Such a perspective will never be developed on the mountain top. This attitude and commitment to Christ is developed in the deep valleys of trials and despair. We know such a perspective is contrary to human nature. One will never come to this place through physical pursuits. This perspective comes from a committed walk with the Lord, learning the value of His grace in our lives and the power it provides. Paul knew that spiritual power in the Lord exceeded physical strength. It is hard to admit that we would welcome a trial, but if it brings us closer to the Lord, being able to experience His power and grace, would it not be worth it? We can rejoice in the valley knowing we have the power of Christ resting upon us!

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psalm 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psalm 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
This is such a beautiful Psalm and reminder of YES Our Lord is there at all times we may not be ready, be up to serving, but our Lord is ready at all times.

C. The Pleasures (10)
2Corinthians 12:10 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.

Paul had even come to the place that he could take pleasure in various trials and adversities. Again, such an attitude is contrary to human nature. Let’s take a moment to consider the struggles that Paul took pleasure in.

Infirmities – This speaks of “generally all kinds of suffering, whether moral or physical.”
Reproaches – This refers to “ridicule, insults, slander, mocking’s, or rumors.”
Necessities – This speaks of “hardships, needs, deprivation, hunger, thirst, lack of clothing, shelter, etc.

Persecutions – This deals with “verbal or physical attacks, abuse, or injury.” We do have some of this here in America but we need to remember what verbal and great physical abuse some of those serving the Lord in other countries face daily!!! My Pastor does an Institute class for a missionary and Pastor in India through live streaming. These men have shared some horrific things they have see or experienced them selves.

Distresses – This speaks of “perplexities, anxious moments, or inescapable problems.”

Such an approach to the difficulties of life will never be possible apart from a close and committed walk with Christ. Such adversity typically causes us to respond in anger and despair, not rejoicing. I want to develop such a relationship, so that I can endure faithfully, completely focused on the Lord and His will for my life. When we allow the trials of life to consume us, we submit to defeat and despair. If we could use the same trials as an outlet to obtain strength and grace in the Lord, we would experience greater victory!

D. The Paradox (10b) – for when I am weak, then am I strong. Paul lived his life according to one of the great paradoxes of Christian life. He had come to the place that he realized his weakness actually provided strength. When he allowed himself to be vulnerable and needy before the Lord, he then was able to receive the strength that only Christ could provide. This had not been available while he tried to handle every situation and overcome in his own strength. When he realized his inability, he found unmatched strength through Christ. Strength had come through his weakness.

This is a difficult lesson to learn, and even harder to put into practice. We want to handle every situation, and fear being viewed as weak. I can’t even count how often I have put a problem in the Lord’s hands then within minutes I am taking it back and worrying over it this I have found NEVER WORKS. Only when we come to the end of ourselves, realizing that we cannot handle the burdens we carry, will we find the strength available in Christ. Genuine strength for the journey is obtained through human weakness. When we stop relying on ourselves and trust solely in Christ, then we are made strong!
Conclusion: I don’t know where you are in the journey, but I am certain many are dealing with struggles and adversity. We may have tried everything we know to bring a resolution, but the burden remains. If we will admit that we are unable to handle the situation, and trust solely in Christ, you can receive the strength to endure. Maybe you don’t know the peace of walking with the Lord. If you are yet unsaved, come to Christ for salvation today. Whatever your need, Christ is the answer!
THERES ROOM AT THE CROSS
The cross upon which Jesus died
Is a shelter in which we can hide
And its grace so free is sufficient for me
And deep is its fountain as wide as the sea.

There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.
Though millions have found him a friend
And have turned from the sins they have sinned
The Savior still waits to open the gates
And welcome a sinner before it’s too late.
There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.

The hand of my Savior is strong
And the love of my Savior is long
Through sunshine or rain, through loss or in gain,
The blood flows from Calvary to cleanse every stain.
There’s room at the cross for you
There’s room at the cross for you
Though millions have come, there’s still room for one
Yes there’s room at the cross for you.

Love and Prayers
Cheryl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s