Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thorns of Blessing


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to host a ladies' breakfast at my house.  The food was delicious and the company was exceptional.  We all had a wonderful time and look forward to doing it again.  Whenever the ladies from our church have a breakfast together someone usually shares a devotional and some time is spent in prayer together.  Being the hostess, I took it upon myself to lead in a short devotional.  As a young pastor's wife, I often feel overwhelmed at opportunities like this, but God has definitely been my confidence and I'm learning more and more how to make it less about what I say and more about what God is saying through me.  

The following is an excerpt from a devotional book called Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment, by Lydia Brownback (she has a series of devotional books that are worth checking out) and is part of what I shared this past weekend.  

Thorns of Blessing

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But 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.  For 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 12:8-10

A debilitating ailment hinders us from enjoying an active life... a shrink income robs us of financial breathing room to pay the bills... an elderly in-law moves in, sucking the peace out of our home.  Difficulties like these - frustrating, worrisome, stressful - happen to each one of us.  Such difficulties may occur overnight; at other times they creep up on over time. 

Do you know what I'm talking about? Maybe you can relate from personal experience.  Perhaps there is a difficult situation you are trying to cope with right now, something making you anxious and irritable much of the time.  Surely you have prayed about it.  Paul prayed several times about his personal problem, asking God to deliver him from his "thorn... in the flesh" (v.7).  But God did not deliver him in the way he asked.  God gave him the strength of Christ instead.  

Paul's thorn weakened him in some way, just as our difficulties weaken us.  As we fight off the continual jabbing of the thorn, we seek to pray our way back to strength.  But more often than not, the thorn we want gone is the very thing God is using to accomplish something good in us.  Paul's weakened condition made room for the strength of Christ, a strength that would give him a larger capacity to enjoy the blessings that God had in store for him.  Weakness in God's people is always a blessing in disguise, but it's hard to see it as such when we are feeling it keenly.  We look for any escape, any way we can find back to the strength of self-sufficiency and daily tranquility

While we are anxiously looking for a way out, what we don't see is that our thorn isn't our real problem.  what is actually making us anxious is our heart's demand to be free of it.  If we'd just stop resisting, we'd find grace to live peacefully with our difficult spouse, our multiple sclerosis, or our unemployment.  If we are willing, we will find that we really don't need the thorn removed - divine grace is sufficient.  God will prove that to us if we let him.

~ Carrie ~

1 comment:

  1. I was encouraged by this. Thanks for being honest and sharing.